By Suzy Kridner
NEW SMYRNA BEACH - Owners of a yet unnamed bed and breakfast hope the riverfront inn will be open no later than the Christmas holidays.
That would be a nice present for brothers Scott and Brett Smith, who have been working on the bed and breakfast since they purchased a house at 916 S. Riverside Drive in 2009 for $729,000.
They had a setback last year when, after doing considerable renovations, city staff said the business didn't meet "the definition and intent of a bed and breakfast, as defined in the city's land development regulations."
That was the ruling sent to Scott Smith from the city's planning manager, Gail Henrikson, who had been asked by nearby residents for an interpretation of city code to determine if the bed and breakfast was in compliance.
Planning Manager Henrikson said, after studying the matter, she determined the project did not meet the city's land development regulations, even though building permits had been issued and construction on a two-story addition had begun. A permit also was issued to expand the garage and second-floor garage apartment and connect it to the main house by renovation of the breezeway.
City Manager Pam Brangaccio upheld that decision and the brothers appealed to the City Commission.
City Attorney Frank Gummey suggested that instead of an appeal, a settlement agreement be worked out between Scott Smith and the city.
On Sept. 24, the neighbors were able to view the settlement agreement and air their concerns at a meeting with Ms. Henrikson and Ms. Brangaccio. Those concerns included problems the neighbors anticipated from parking, pets, noise from deliveries and trash pickup, among others.
At that meeting, which did not include the owners, Ms. Brangaccio said she hoped that with City Commission approval of the settlement agreement, those involved could move forward.
The commissioners on Sept. 25 approved the agreement that calls for, among other things, quarterly meetings between city staff and the bed and breakfast owners to update the city and address any complaints.
Parking is one of the biggest concerns, Ms. Brangaccio said. The owners have acquired additional parking in a nearby church lot and plan to valet cars if there's an overflow from the six onsite spaces.
"We're stuck with it. What can we do?" asked neighbor Barbara Wright about the bed and breakfast.
The city manager encouraged the neighbors to contact her with any complaints and she invited them to the quarterly meetings, which will be open to the public.
Bob Williams, attorney for the Smiths, told the City Commission "we think this is a good resolution. It's been three years since my clients started on the project."
"We came here tonight in the spirit of settlement," Mr. Williams said. "My clients are not fly-by-night. They have over 60 years of management of these types of properties."
This project should be a real asset to New Smyrna Beach, he said, adding "the settlement agreement makes us the most highly regulated bed and breakfast in the city."
Meanwhile, Brett Smith, who is general manager of the inn, said he and his brother, Scott, partners in the project, hope to make an announcement soon on the name of the 14-room bed and breakfast.
Most of the rooms "will feature an angled or full view of the Indian River Lagoon," Brett Smith said.
The units will include nine deluxe guest rooms, three junior suites and two one-bedroom suites, many with private balconies.
"Each unit has its own in suite "spa" inspired bathroom - and are equipped with Mirabelle soaking tubs," he said.
"They will be outfitted with sophisticated and stylish furnishings that range from New York mid-century modernism to an eclectic coastal living vibe. The feel is more akin to an impeccably designed residential oasis - without the trappings of a commercial hotel product," he said in an e-mail.
Brett Smith, who lives in New Smyrna Beach, said he will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day activities of the bed and breakfast.
He's a Certified Hotel Administrator and has been in the lodging industry for almost 40 years.
"I have extensive executive management experience in high-end full service resorts and have been affiliated with such properties as Amelia Island Plantation, the Boca Raton Hotel and Club, South Seas Plantation on Captiva Island, Tradewinds Resorts in St Petersburg and a host of other lodging products," he said.
The family has owned the Chateau Inn and Suites in Spring Lake, N.Y., for more than 60 years, Brett Smith said.
His brother, Scott, has been the general manager and principal stakeholder there for almost 30 years, he said, and other family members are minority shareholders.
In New Smyrna Beach, when asked about hosting other events, such as luncheons and bridal showers, Brett Smith said "our primary focus will be to provide an excellence of service to our in-house guests who represent our high margin business - rather than a focus on more low-margin ancillary revenue flows. We will see how our business evolves and we will listen to our customers as they will help to define the amenities and services that are best suited for our B&B."
The agreement also stipulates the owners host a neighborhood open house reception within 90 days after the issuance of the certificate of occupancy and provide written notice to all property owners within a 150 -foot radius of the property.