Potential Stockton Inn buyer abandons plans for 780-seat theater and hotel
STOCKTON – Residents of one of New Jersey’s smaller towns scored a big victory when a developer scrapped plans to convert the quaint and historic Stockton Inn into a boutique hotel and 780-seat amphitheater.
The decision by Avon Road Partners, a New Hope, Pa., Company to abandon the plan was announced by District Attorney Michael Butler at Monday’s Borough Council meeting, according to a report from TapintoFlemington / Raritan.
Avon Road Partners’ attorney emailed the borough on June 11 saying the company was abandoning plans and was not moving forward with the purchase of the hostel.
Butler also said, according to the report, that the planning council did not have to continue its investigation into whether the hostel property should be designated as a redevelopment area.
The plan met fierce opposition in the less than a square mile Delaware River borough whose entire population of around 600 could fit into the proposed amphitheater with room remaining.
An organization, “Protect Stockton”, was formed to fight the plan and over $ 12,000 was raised in a gofundme page for legal fees. Residents of neighboring municipalities, such as West Amwell, have also joined in the opposition.
The news that Avon Road Partners was not buying the hostel was greeted with relief on the organization’s Facebook page.
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“It’s just wonderful to know that our little river town is going to be the Stockton we love,” one person wrote.
The hostel is being sold by Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty for $ 2.75 million.
By a 5-1 vote on February 8, the borough council voted to ask the planning council to study the possibility of designating the Stockton Inn site as a redevelopment area.
Avon Road Partners, whose holdings once included the Monticello Raceway in the Catskills, New York, presented to the borough council in December a vision for the Main Street inn and restaurant, which closed three years ago.
Robert Berman, of Avon Road, told council that in order for the hotel to be sustainable, the amphitheater was necessary as the hotel and venue would “play against each other,” according to the minutes Of the reunion.
The company’s website also states that “the project’s anchor point is a permanent 780-seat amphitheater under the roof (the pavilion) which will allow performances from May to October. Shows will include classic, classic rock, contemporary and comedy. The pavilion will accommodate more. over 40 events per season with plans for a smooth opening in summer 2022. “
Mario LaGuardia, the architect of the project, told city council that the current building is “fragile” and needs a “TLC”, according to the minutes of the meeting. He said the historic murals and woodwork inside the building will be preserved.
An inn has been on the site since the 18th century and the current building was built in the 1830s.
A century later, in the 1930s, the inn became a meeting place for the New York arts community that flocked to Bucks County, Pennsylvania on weekends. The Inn was the inspiration for the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart song, “There’s a Little Hotel (with a Well)” which was in the Broadway musical, “On Your Toes” and later sung by Frank Sinatra in the movie, “Pal Joey.”
Local historians also suggest that author Margaret Mitchel often stayed at the inn and wrote parts of “Gone with the Wind” there.
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Mike Deak is a reporter for mycentraljersey.com. To get unlimited access to his Somerset and Hunterdon Counties articles, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.