Friday, June 2, 2023

Williamsburg Property Owner Wins Approval From City Council To Convert Hotel to Affordable Housing Units

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WILLIAMSBURG – Williamsburg City Council voted 4-0 on May 11 to allow the conversion of the Baymont Hotel at 505 York St. to a 76-unit apartment building for income-eligible tenants.

Mayor Doug Pons, who owns The Flats, the city’s first hotel-to-apartments conversion, recused himself and did not participate in the discussion.

Repurposing underperforming hotels and motels into affordable apartments was the number one recommendation of the city’s Affordable Housing Workgroup. Their 2021 report concluded that more than 1,200 affordable housing units were needed across household sizes with that number increasing by 31 percent by the year 2040.

“We’d come up with 1,247 needed additional units and that was the demand as of two years ago,” said Council member Caleb Rogers, who also served on the affordable housing task force. “This property, 81 rooms, is a dent in that, but that’s why it’s a compelling project.”

Last December, after months of fine-tuning a plan, the City Council approved an ordinance to allow the owners of 13 “underperforming” hotels and motels to apply to convert their properties to apartments with a citywide cap of no more than 400 total units. Those converted rooms would help fulfill a need not met by the city’s existing housing inventory, especially in regard to studio apartments. A study found that of the 7,100 apartments for rent in Greater Williamsburg, only 104 of them are efficiencies. Ninety-five of those are at the two existing hotel-to-apartment conversions, The Flats and Willow Creek. The vacancy rate is zero.

“This is meeting a need that’s not currently being met in this market,” said Scott Foster, an attorney for the Baymont owner, Shree Arihant of Williamsburg, who was the first hotel owner to apply for conversion under the new rules.

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