Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Williamsburg Hotel Owner Applies For Rezoning To Convert To Affordable Housing Units

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WILLIAMSBURG – The owner of the Baymont by Wyndham Hotel in Williamsburg is seeking a special use permit and rezoning to convert the 81-room hotel at 505 York St. into 76 income-restricted apartments.

Williamsburg Planning Commission will hear the request at its meeting on Wednesday, April 19. City staff is recommending approval.

Last December, after months of fine-tuning a plan, the Williamsburg City Council approved an ordinance to allow the owners of up to 13 underperforming hotels and motels to apply to convert their properties to apartments for income-eligible tenants.

The Baymont, owned by Shree Arihant of Williamsburg, is the first to apply for conversion under the new rules.

The current zoning is B-2, Corridor Business District. To convert to apartments, the company needs its 1.38-acre site to be rezoned to Planned Development Housing District (PDH). The PDH category was established to allow the conversion of a limited number of existing hotel/motel rooms into affordable housing units. Those units would help fulfill a housing need not addressed by the city’s existing housing inventory.

If the rezoning request is approved, the company will also need a special use permit (SUP) in order to remodel 81 hotel rooms into 76 apartments, consisting of 56 efficiencies, 16 one-bedroom, and four two-bedroom units.

The 2021 Affordable Housing Report concluded that 1,247 affordable housing units were needed across income levels with that number increasing by 31 percent by the year 2040.

Though the ordinance is aimed at encouraging property owners to create more affordable housing within the city limits, the units will not be “rent-controlled,” but the units must be rented to individuals or households with incomes at or less than 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The AMI for the Williamsburg area is $93,200.

Property owners/management firms must provide an annual report to the city to verify that affordability requirements are being met.

Another condition of SUP approval is that the property be located within walking distance of existing transit routes and pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

The Baymont is located on US Route 60, just east of the Historic Area, and along an existing public transit route. The bus stop at Powhatan and York Street is 150 feet from the hotel’s lobby. Sidewalks are available along both sides of York Street for pedestrians and a shared-use path is available for bicycle traffic.                            

The Flats at Williamsburg (formerly the Quarterpath Inn/Knights Inn), at 620 York St., was the first hotel-to-apartment conversion, rezoned from B-2 to PDH in 2015. It has 102 units, including some two-bedroom units.

A second property, Willow Creek Apartments at 216 Parkway Dr., was converted in 2018. It has 48 units, all studios or one-bedrooms.

York Street is also home to two other apartment complexes and two other hotels, the Best Western and Bluegreen Vacations, a timeshare. 

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