Wellington Council OKs Amendment To Allow Another Hotel Near Mall

The Wellington Village Council approved a resolution Tuesday amending the Wellington Green Master Plan to allow another hotel in the area around the Mall at Wellington Green.

The applicant wants to build a 125-room Fairfield Inn on 1.78 acres that will be built and maintained by Marriott Corp., on a parcel not far away from the existing Hampton Inn.

Growth Management Director Bob Basehart said the amendment will change the original conditions approved by Palm Beach County before the mall property annexed into Wellington. The conditions limited the number of hotels to one, with a maximum of 125 rooms. The Hampton Inn has 122 rooms. The amendment would allow two hotels with a maximum of 250 rooms.

Basehart also pointed out that the original Development of Regional Impact (DRI) approved for the mall by the county expired in 2016.

“As of this year, any approvals on the property can be done at the local level,” he said, adding that the approval would not require an increase in the total square footage of the property.

Basehart said that village staff has been working with Palm Tran to free up underutilized parking spaces in its adjacent Park & Ride lot for the planned hotel to purchase.

“The original Palm Tran parking lot has 140 spaces,” Basehart said. “On a good day, there are four or five cars there.”

He said that Palm Tran has agreed to reduce its parcel by 90 spaces from the 140 for the village to sell to the applicant, which he said is one key to the plan.

The village owns the parking lot, which it leases to Palm Tran under a Department of Transportation grant that totaled $700,000 for 10 years. The village purchased the property for civic use under the condition that if it decides to sell the property, Wellington must give the original property owner, Birch Development Ltd., the right of first refusal. Birch is the applicant for the new hotel on behalf of Marriott, which would build and manage the hotel.

Basehart said the village has not negotiated a price yet for the parking lot, but expected to receive three appraisals by the end of the week, which would be averaged to make an offer.

Conditions on the hotel include that it not exceed 72 feet tall and that the two hotels not exceed a total of 250 rooms.

Basehart said the Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board asked for a condition to provide a safe crossing to the mall parking lot, and the developer was agreeable, but did not own the road or the area opposite the road.

Jennifer Vail of the Wantman Group, agent for the applicant, said there are access points throughout the mall property, and they have been reluctant to include additional crosswalks.

Mayor Anne Gerwig said the access points are phased and coordinated with timing of intersections to provide overall travel flow efficiency.

Village Manager Paul Schofield pointed out that the application is just a master plan amendment, and the application would be back before the council and other boards several times before final approval.

“They will have to come back for specifics on every item,” Schofield said.

Councilman Michael Drahos asked what the room types will be. Vail responded that it will be a 50-50 split of standard rooms and suites with a microwave and a small refrigerator. She added that the hotel will have common amenities, including a meeting room, gym and lounge area, but no restaurant or bar.

Gerwig asked if a market analysis had been done, and Basehart said the applicant told him that they had one, but had not submitted it because it is not required.

Attorney Phillip Hutchinson represented the Hampton Inn in opposing the application.

“My client’s problem is the owner using public property to benefit a private owner,” Hutchinson said.

He also asserted that the parking lot property has soccer fields adjacent to it, and it fills up when there are tournaments.

Hutchinson added that the Hampton Inn had not been notified of the planned sale of the parking lot property and felt that it should be offered to the highest bidder.

He noted that his client bought there because of the hotel restriction, which Basehart pointed out earlier had expired in 2016.

Village Attorney Laurie Cohen said the village could dispose of property the way it wants as long as it serves a public purpose, and Basehart reiterated that an original condition of the approval was that if Wellington decides to sell the property it would first offer first refusal to the original owner.

“The civic site was given to us by the developer,” Basehart said.

He added that a letter from the county agreed to give up 90 spaces, leaving it with 48 Park & Ride spaces. The Department of Transportation will be remunerated for the remaining period of its grant, which is about two years.

Councilman Michael Napoleone asked about height limits, and Basehart said it has to stop at 72 feet, which is mandated for the entire State Road 7 corridor through Wellington. He added that the theater in the mall is the tallest structure at 65 feet. The Hampton Inn is 56 feet.

After more discussion, Drahos made a motion to approve the resolution with additional conditions limiting the building to five stories and allowing no full kitchens, which carried 5-0.


  1. Since a 2nd hotel will be coming to Wellington, does that mean we can stop the talk of another hotel on the corner of S.shore and pierson? This should be good enough now for the horse show.

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