MYSTIC — Mystic Seaport Museum announced plans Thursday to demolish its Latitude 41° Restaurant & Tavern and construct a 20-25 room hotel with a restaurant and event space on the property’s 1.36-acre parcel that fronts the Mystic River at 105 Greenmanville Ave.
“It’s essentially replacing the building that’s there in terms of its size and scale. The current building is around 24,000 square feet and that’s essentially about the size of the new building, but instead of being on the road it will be closer to the water,” said Charles Mallory, founder and CEO of Greenwich Hospitality Group, which will lease the property from the museum.
Mallory said the project would cater to Seaport visitors and “to people who want a great waterfront dining experience with a magnificent view.”
“We’re going to make it so you really feel you’re on the water and you’ll have dynamic views because you’ll see the sailing and boating activity and with the new Stonington rowing center that will be immediately to the north, I think that will create a real vibrant waterfront activity,” he said. “I think as a hotel guest it will be really kind of fun to have your coffee in the morning and watch the people out rowing or kids out sailing or the Seaport’s whale boats going up and down.”
A long-time trustee of the Seaport, Mallory said he recently stepped down from his position to avoid any possible conflict of interest.
“I was a member of the board for many years of Seaport but because of my involvement with this project I felt that it was appropriate that I resign so that there would be no conflict of interest,” he said.
His company, Greenwich Hospitality Group, established in 1999, owns and operates a number of luxury hotels and restaurants, including Delamar hotels in Greenwich, Southport and West Hartford, Hotel Zero Degrees in Danbury, Norwalk and Stamford and five historic hotels including the Goodwin Hotel in Hartford.
Architect Bruce Beinfield of Norwalk has been chosen to design the Mystic project but drawings will not be available for several weeks.
“Bruce has an interesting aesthetic, which is a combination of traditional and contemporary. He likes the simplicity of the forms in traditional New England architecture but then he likes to put a contemporary twist on it and I’m actually quite excited about the ideas he’s come up with,” said Mallory. “He has done very significant number of projects up and down the coast and he’s highly sensitive to the historical context wherever he works.”
Mallory said he didn’t have a cost estimate for the project yet. “We really have to get the building design dialed in and then we can get an estimate done.”
He also said the project is not intended to compete with the hotels around Exit 90, nor will it add to the parking issues in downtown Mystic because it will use the Seaport’s large parking lot located across Greenmanville Ave. (Route 27) as well as offer valet parking.
“The other thing we’re excited with is we’re not going to be sort of competing with the 10 hotels that are at Exit 90, we’re going to be a different product but we also are not going to be adding pressure to the downtown market because we’ll have that parking ability in the lots across the street.” Other new hotel proposals in Mystic include two on Coogan Boulevard near Olde Mistick Village and one in the Smiler’s Wharf project at Seaport Marine.
With the Mystic sewage treatment plant operating at capacity, new development could be slowed until the town comes up with a solution, such as reactivating a diversion line that would send effluent to the wastewater treatment plant in Stonington Borough. Mallory said he thought the new project would require about the same sewage capacity as Latitude 41°.
“We are replacing a building with a somewhat similar facility the only difference being that it will have some bedrooms,” he said.
Because the new building will be set back from the road, the project will have space for a drop-off area and circular driveway in the front.
Setting the building back will also open up the sightlines along the road so that visitors will be able to see the Seaport buildings, Mallory said.
“This is going to be a game-changer. I think it will open up the view corridor so that when you’re driving down Route 27, instead of being blocked by what is now a fence and the back-of-the-house kitchen space, you’ll see a beautiful landscaped entry point. It’ll give you some breathing room and expose the Thompson building in all its splendor and a welcome sense of arrival to the Seaport and for that matter the town.”
The new building is one of three new projects the museum announced Thursday. The second project is an expansion of the public display of the watercraft collection, located in the museum’s Collections Research Center where 460 historic vessels are currently stored. The project includes converting 38,000 square feet of warehouse storage into exhibit space featuring a rotating selection of watercraft from the museum’s vessel collection.
The third project is the construction of an underwater research and education center in conjunction with the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration, a 501c3 nonprofit organization currently headquartered on the Mystic Seaport Museum campus.
“We are excited to announce these three strategic initiatives, which will add significantly to the visitor experience of the Museum, support and share the important work of the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration, and provide new sources of revenue to help sustain Museum operations,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport Museum, in a press release Thursday.
Mystic Seaport Museum is located within a Maritime Heritage District in the Town of Stonington. The museum submitted an amendment to its master plan to the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission to address the proposed projects. A public hearing date for the amendment has not been announced.