Lighthouse Inn repairs slow but owner says work continues
New London — Renovation work has slowed at the long-vacant Lighthouse Inn but owner Alwyn Christy said he still has his sights set on reopening the treasured local landmark.
“I haven’t given up,” Christy said in a brief phone interview last week.
He was reluctant to give up too many details of the ongoing work at the inn but did say the latest project focused on the exterior of the building. He had hoped to open the first-floor banquet hall and bar to restaurant guests last fall. He now says his goal is to open it up this year. He hopes to start exterior painting by spring.
Observers — and there are many people paying attention — have noticed the Lighthouse Inn sign is missing from the front of the storied inn. Some of the windows remain boarded up with plywood and plastic. The Carriage House, another structure on the property, appears untouched.
The former inn is located at 48 Guthrie Place, in the middle of a residential area, and at least one person has complained to the city about the apparent lack of progress and deteriorating condition.
Felix Reyes, the director of the Office of Development and Planning, recently ushered in some new additions to the city’s blight ordinance that include a 180-day limit on the amount of time plywood can remain on a vacant structure.
Reyes said he shared frustration about the progress of the work and acknowledged that a dormant project can have a detrimental impact on neighboring properties. In a recent interview, Reyes said the Lighthouse Inn project may look blighted but remains under construction and some progress is being made, just at a slow pace.
“It looks as though there are an unlimited number of problems and unforeseen conditions that have made the project go even slower,” Reyes said.
He said he planned to talk to Christy about the schedule of construction to show it’s a viable project. He said the city stands ready to help the owner find economic incentives, such as a revolving loan fund, or solutions to make the project less costly.
“He’s got to know if the construction slows to a point where it stops, he’s got a vacant structure on his hands,” Reyes said. “The hope is he will keep it active. We will provide him with whatever is available to help him maintain the project.”
Christy said when he started work on the exterior stucco, workers found unforeseen damage cause by water infiltration that needed repairs. Previous owners, it seems, had added layers of paint over cracks in the stucco, rather than sealing them. Some of that was discovered when a power washer was used on the surface of the stucco. That problem since has been rectified, he said.
The Lighthouse Inn sign, he said, had been in place since the 1960s and it was removed to access any damage underneath.
Water has led to a lot of the deterioration of the inn, built in 1902 and vacant since 2008. Christy bought the property from the city for 22,900 tax bill for 2017. The property is assessed at $525,000.