Proposed Boardwalk-Hugging Belhaven Hotel to Seek Variances

Curently in the design-development stage, the Belhaven Hotel to sit on the boardwalk on Rehoboth Beach will rise into place on the same spot at the famous Belhaven hotel stood until a storm destroyed it in the 1960’s. 


The current landowners, the Papajohn family, hope for it to be a modernization of the original. This is the third hotel proposed in the last year that is looking for a home in the lucrative area that locals hope will mean more competitive prices and a bigger boom in summer tourism at the beach. Citing concerns about environmental and weather hazards, the developers are working with the Rehoboth Board of Adjustment to establish multiple variances to the structure. 

What Do We Know About the Structure So Far? 

The famous saying may be “out with the old and in with the new,” but the Papajohn family wants to be sure that the classic vestiges of the property keep their sparkle in the space, so the highlights to be expected are a mixed bag of local favorites and modern improvements:

  • Previous retailers and food establishments. Businesses once housed in the space currently occupying the property are invited to return to the ground floor of the new Belhaven, which will include a bar, a shop and at least two restaurants. These establishments include the Spice and Tea Exchange and the Candy Kitchen. 
  • Four Floors of Rooms. The finished structure will be a full four stories, doubling the original’s size. The original proposal included 120 guest rooms but was reduced to 100 in the final blueprint to allow for additional square footage.
  • Underground Parking Structure. The parking garage will serve two potential purposes: leaving more walking space on the street and boardwalk free of cars and providing a more solid foundation for the hotel to sit upon in this beachy environment.


Concerns have been cited regarding the height of the building, the potential for flooding in the parking area, and other parts of the design that might be too sensitive to survive the weather in the local environment. The variances that the developers are seeking hope to rectify those problems, including extra measures for flood prevention, embellishment heights, and more. 

Are There Any Unique Construction Considerations to be Taken?

For contractors who are accustomed to coastal locations, there is likely not going to be a lot that’s new about building a structure like this on the boardwalk. It will need the proper supports and foundation, and some further issues cited in the variances may come in that help to make the hotel more sound. As mentioned before, it will not be the only hotel coming up in the area, so any new considerations may quickly become familiar to workers in the region. 

What Will It Take to Complete This Project?

For contractors and developers on the project, this will not be a short process, from the very beginning.

  • The original structure must be demolished, and the ground underneath needs to be reworked in preparation for the parking garage, with the required supports.
  • The parking structure, whether single or multi-level, may wind up consuming much of the time allotted for finishing the project on deadline (still to be determined). It is projected to hold space enough for 100 cars, one for each room above.
  • The hotel itself, with eating and retail establishments on the ground floor and guest rooms above, will also have an outdoor pool accessible from the second floor. 


The finished product hopes to manifest the grandeur of the original historical structure alongside its modern amenities, all of this just steps from the bustling boardwalk that a portion of the hotel will front. 

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