Developer says apartments will be designated affordable housing

Plans are progressing for a five-story mixed use building to replace the dilapidated Bayard Hotel at the corner of Loockerman Street and Governors Avenue in downtown Dover.

The project, known as Bayard Plaza, received approval Nov. 15 from the Dover Planning Commission, whose members had positive things to say about the proposed building.

Chairman Michael Hemmig said the structure will be a welcome addition to a downtown area that is struggling to revitalize itself.

“It’s a major undertaking and a substantial project for the downtown,” he said. “I’m enthused.”

As planned, Bayard Plaza would feature four retail storefronts on the ground floor and 48 apartments above. The historic Bayard Hotel, which dates from the mid-1800s and has fallen into irreversible disrepair, will be completely demolished.

Developer Henry Mast asked for and was granted an exemption from a requirement that he include 57 on-site parking spaces to serve the building, according to city code.

Instead, the building will have 42 spaces on site, but the future landlord will have to purchase eight annual parking passes at nearby city lots for use by tenants.

Commission member Francis Nichols did question Mast’s decision to use vinyl siding on parts of the building’s façade—an issue that was a sticking point during the project’s review before the city’s Historic District Commission.

Nichols asked if vinyl would really be that much cheaper than another wall covering, like Dryvit, an artificial stucco material.

Mast said he’s using vinyl siding to keep costs down, but it will still look attractive.

“Dryvit is four times what vinyl siding is, plus it’s a maintenance issue,” he said. “With the technology they have now with vinyl siding, I think they do a good job.”

Nichols said overall he’s in support of the project.

“It’s going to be a nice addition, a lot better than what we have now,” he said.

Mast also discussed briefly his plans to offer the apartments for rent as federally recognized affordable housing.

“These are going to be working class folks, the rents are $500, $650, $700 max,” he said.

After the meeting, Mast said he’s been granted a federal tax credit for agreeing to rent to tenants earning no more than 60% of the national median income. That tax credit, he said, will be passed along to whomever becomes the landlord in the future.

Though he didn’t discuss his timeline with the planning commission, Mast has indicated in the past that he plans to move forward with demolition of the old building by the end of the year and break ground on the Bayard Plaza by February or March.

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