Plans were revealed at a recent city board meeting to replace the historic hotel with an apartment building.

The owner of the dilapidated Bayard Hotel building on Loockerman Street in Dover told a city board that he plans to demolish the historic edifice by January and immediately begin construction on a five-story apartment building at the site.

After several years of vacancy and lax maintenance, the city’s Historic District Commission determined last January that the Victorian-era building was being “demolished by neglect.” This designation gives the city the authority to force the building’s owner to tear it down, or pay to have it demolished and bill the owner.

Henry Mast, who took ownership of the property last year with a partner in Maryland, never disputed the declaration, but dragged his feet on providing the commission with more details about the property, when it would be torn down and what would become of it after demolition.

City planning staff said there are no plans to take on the demolition project, since the building does not constitute an immediate danger.
At the commission’s monthly meeting July 15, Mast revealed that he plans to have the building demolished in December or January, and then start on a new project called Bayard Plaza.

“We want to go from demo right into construction,” he said. “We’re going to come right back with a brand new building.”

Tentative plans for the Bayard Plaza include five floors housing commercial space on the ground level and 48 apartments above.

Mast said he plans to spend the next several months generating detailed plans for the new building for submission to the commission, which must approve the architecture before the project can move forward.

When the plans are in, Mast said he’ll then apply for a permit to demolish the existing building.

Commission members indicated they are anxious for the building to come down, but they were content to allow Mast time to firm up plans for the project that will rise on the site.

“I want to see the building torn down,” said board member Joseph McDaniel. “We don’t want to see a hole in the ground, a bunch of gravel and anchored fence for five years. I can live with waiting a bit longer.”

In other business…
The commission voted to approve architectural plans for a new building proposed by developer Bob Duncan after striking down a first-draft of the project in June.

Members said last month they weren’t satisfied with some of the more modern-looking elements of the four-story Duncan Plaza building, to be located across from the Duncan Center at the end of West Loockerman Street.

Duncan bristled at the delay, but sent the commission revised plans that met with favor.

Instead of a flat roof and long banks of plate glass windows, the new plans show a barrel-shaped roof and new brickwork and architectural features on the façade.

The plans call for 31,000 square feet of office space, including a coffee shop on the ground floor.

With the panel’s approval, Duncan’s application now is ready for submission to the Planning Commission, which will also have the opportunity to weigh in on the architecture.