Boomerang seeks expansion and `fractional ownership’
At least some of the debate tonight over expansion of the old Boomerang Lodge property will deal with an unspoken but controversial part of the proposal – whether or not the new lodging should allow “fractional ownership.”
Boomerang owners Charlie and Fonda Paterson have applied to the city to develop a parcel of land they recently bought, located across West Hopkins Avenue from the Boomerang.
According to the application, the Patersons want to build five chalets, two one-bedroom lodge units, two one-bedroom affordable housing units and a bathhouse on the 19,000-square-foot parcel. The formal application scarcely mentions the fractional ownership idea, but the Patersons’ planning consultant confirmed last week that the couple is exploring the idea as a way to finance the project.
The proposal has received the unanimous endorsement of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and Housing Board, and goes before the City Council for the second time tonight, at a hearing continued from June 12.
Included in the council members’ meeting packets are letters from neighbors worried about the Patersons’ exploration of the idea of making the chalets “fractional ownership,” which is a variant of the time-share concept. Under this concept, different people buy specific time intervals throughout the year as vacation time. But where time-shares normally do not involve actual ownership of the property by deed, fractional ownership does.
Critics of the plan are concerned that fractional ownership will result in increased numbers of visitors to the neighborhood, resulting in added traffic and parking congestion, environmental impacts and safety problems, according to letters from several neighbors and others.
And Planning Director Julie Ann Woods said Friday that city officials, too, have some concerns about the fractional ownership idea. She said city codes deal at some length with the time-share concept, but fractional or “interval” ownership is not specifically addressed.
She said the idea of time-share ownership has come up before, and that one developer was considering the idea of buying a single-family home in the West End and converting it to fractional ownership. If that were to happen, she said, it would likely have considerable impact on the West End, at least in terms of traffic and parking.
Sunny Vann, the planning consultant working on the Boomerang proposal, said that the question of fractional ownership is “still up in the air.” He said it should make no difference to the city or the neighbors whether the Boomerang remains a traditional lodge or changes to fractional ownership, because ideally, lodge rooms are occupied all the time anyway.
All fractional ownership would mean, he said, is an infusion of money right away to help finance the expansion project.
“He was looking for a different product to supplement what he’s got there already,” Vann said of Charlie Paterson’s view of the matter.
He dismissed the neighbors’ complaints as based on poor understanding of the issues involved, noting, “Frankly, people single it out and they use it as a scare tactic. Basically, it’s simply what the industry calls `hot beds,’ ” meaning there is an increased likelihood of higher occupancy with fractional ownership.
City planning officials also are concerned about a lack of off-street parking spaces to go with the expanded facilities, and have asked the Patersons to rework their plans to include up to seven on-site parking spaces rather than have their patrons all park on the street.
Tonight is the first reading of the proposal; it is not a public hearing. The council meeting starts at 5 p.m. in the basement of City Hall.
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