Last week, we asked for your input on one of the icons of southern New London. The historic has been vacant for a few years, and we wondered what you'd like to see there.
For the most part, your suggestions sought to bring the inn back to life in a manner similar to all or part of its former functions. One suggestion said it could be used in part for long-term and summer apartment rentals in addition to the hotel function, while another said it would be nice to see the restaurant that used to occupy the inn reopened. One person suggested splitting off the carriage house parcel so any buyer could focus on the main building.
One suggestion (tongue-in-cheek, I'd wager, judging by the user's past comments) said the place could be turned into a mayor's mansion. The first person to weigh in said the inn could easily house the national Coast Guard Museum while also providing a gift shop and quarters for Coast Guard and Navy officers.
Shelly Briscoe, land use assistant with the , says the former inn lies in the single family low density residential district. The purpose of the district is generally to preserve a residential neighborhood with open space, but the inn seems to get a nod in that the district also allows the "opportunity for creative use of large older buildings as a means of assuring neighborhood stability, aesthetics and historic preservation."
Briscoe says the district permits single family residences as well as home-based businesses. The Lighthouse Inn was a pre-existing non-conforming structure, so anyone who wants to reopen its old functions would have to submit an application to the zoning enforcement officer. If you'd like our mayor and any future leaders of the city to have 22,000 square feet to live in, that could be arranged; Briscoe says a mayor's mansion would be permitted as a single-family residence.
What about the museum idea? Well, such use would fall under the category of libraries, museums, and art galleries on sites having not less than 20,000 square feet and require a permit from the Planning and Zoning Commission.
"More detail for the suggestions for sleeping quarters for Naval/ Coast Guard officers and short term/long term summer rentals would be needed to determine how the use would be classified before determining if these uses would be permitted and, if so, administratively or by the issuance
of a special permit by the Planning and Zoning Commission," says Briscoe.
Briscoe says reopening the inn or restaurant would have to include adequate parking based on zoning requirements. In addition, splitting off the carriage houses would require approval from the zoning enforcement officer and possibly the Planning and Zoning Commission; the new parcel would have to be at least 7,500 square feet with a minimum frontage and width each measuring 75 feet.
Earlier this week, I got a call from a person who had seen this "Fill The Spot" and inquired whether the $1.6 million asking price included any furniture. We'll have to wait and see if this plays out into bringing new ownership to the inn.