By Angeljean Chiarmida
---- — SALISBURY — Salisbury Beach will soon have a new offering, as the owners of the Pavilion will add 8,500 square feet of exhibit space to the second floor of the oceanside venue.
In 2008, the Capolupo family began renovating the first floor of the Pavilion, located at the corner of the Driftway and Ocean Front North, which for decades had been the site of The Beach Club and an arcade.
Under the guidance of SPS New England President Wayne Capolupo, Atlantic Hospitality Group opened its year-round, 175-seat Seaglass restaurant on the first floor of the Pavilion in May 2009, with views of the Atlantic along two of its walls. Not long after, a 250-person banquet/function room was added to the first floor, as well as the Blue Ocean Music Hall, a setting for musicians and comedians that holds about 600 people.
This new venture, which received a building permit about a week ago, will encompass the second floor of the huge structure, according to Salisbury building inspector David Lovering. Since the company’s plans always included redeveloping the second story eventually, the project didn’t need another review by the Planning Board, Lovering said.
“I met with Wayne and the architects and the plan is to finish off the second floor of the Pavilion,” Lovering said yesterday. “It’s nice Wayne is willing to make this kind of commitment at the beach. I think this will be a nice investment for the town.”
According to a press release issued this week, the project by Atlantic Hospitality Group calls for creating another 14,000 square feet of usable space, which will accommodate more than 500 people in three distinct areas. It is slated to open this spring.
The largest space will be the Blue Ocean Event Center, with 8,500 square feet that can accommodate 380 people for trade shows, conferences, indoor craft shows and festivals, complete with Wi-Fi.
Two thousand square feet will become the Seaglass SkyView Room, which will be a 110-person capacity, multi-purpose function room available for all sorts of uses. Food service will be provided by the Seaglass staff.
The smallest area to be redeveloped is the SkyView Lounge and Food Court, with a 1,000-square-foot space that can seat 50 people. It will offer a 32-foot-wide bar and a light menu.
According to Capolupo, the new plans are intended to bring new business to the beach center year-round, and not just to improve the summer season.
“The idea has always been to de-seasonalize Salisbury Beach because no business can survive with only a 10-week season, given the cost of construction being so high,” Capolupo said yesterday. “The idea is to bring people to Salisbury 52 weeks a year, not just in June, July and August, which are doing fairly well right now.”
A great deal of thought went into deciding what to build on the Pavilion’s second floor, he said. His company looked into things like a day spa or other high-end operations, but the figures never worked out. The event/conference business model did make good financial sense, Capolupo said.
The Capolupo family went forward with its initial plans for the Pavilion in 2008 and 2009, in the midst of the darkest times of the recent recession. The new project, however, represents a belief that things are on the mend economically.
“We fully believe that the economy has come around and the worst days are behind us,” Capolupo said. “The economy isn’t recovering as fast as some people would like, but I welcome this kind of slow, steady recovery. I would rather see a moderate, prolonged economic recovery instead of a shorter one, with high spikes that might not last very long.”
The design for the expansion, which could start as early as this month, is by Gienapp Design & Architecture of Danvers, and will feature extensive glass and window elements to afford floor-to-ceiling ocean views from the moment guests step into the upstairs lobby.
Lovering said Atlantic Hospitality will provide Salisbury health agent Jack Morris with plans for the restaurant and kitchen prior to construction when they are firmed up. Lovering added that second floor has sprinklers throughout and is ADA-compliant, allowing access for the disabled via an elevator.
Although significantly increasing the capacity of the Pavilion, because Salisbury does not have a prescribed parking requirement based on square footage or seat numbers, Atlantic Hospitality doesn’t have to provide on-site parking for the number of cars that could patronize any or all of the businesses in the building’s different venues, according to assistant town planner Leah Hill.
Since the establishment is licensed to serve alcohol, Salisbury Liquor Licensing Commission chairman Mike Gilbert said the development of the new space will be the topic of a public hearing before the commission on Feb. 13. But another liquor license will not need to be issued, Gilbert said, just an adjustment to the current license once commissioners review and approve the new plans.
“(The Liquor Licensing Commission’s) concern is with security issues and we want to make sure that (Atlantic Hospitality) has a sign off on the project from the Planning Board and the fire department,” Gilbert said. “We’re concerned with seeing how access to liquor will be secured from the people who go there.”