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U.S. again blasts Odette’s development plan; owners, state officials want to move historic tavern to Main Street

View of the River House from the south in the early 1900s.

View of the River House from the south in the early 1900s.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service again blasted redevelopment plans for the former Odette’s site in New Hope in a Feb. 16 letter to property owners and the P.A. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

The U.S. Department of Interior division initially slammed the proposed redevelopment in October 2015 after reviewing the project at the request of the DCNR.

DCNR is working with developer Gateway to New Hope, LLC, because DCNR owns the land surrounding the Odette’s structures.

Gateway to New Hope has sought since April 2014 to tear down the historic Odette’s tavern to make way for a boutique conference center, an action the U.S. National Park Service said in an October 2015 letter represents a “serious threat to the character and integrity of the Delaware Canal.”

The Delaware Canal was identified as a National Historic Landmark in 1976, and it’s the job of the National Park Service to work with landmark owners to ensure their property’s continued historic status.

They said last October that the Odette’s building “retains integrity and is not diminished by the subsequent 20th century additions.”

The National Park Service’s latest letter follows an inspection by that group of the Odette’s site on Jan. 15, 2016. Some of their observations: “The team was generally impressed by the condition of the 1780s core building,” and “The building retains both structural and design integrity.”

The Park Service went on to recommend three possible scenarios to mitigate what they consider to be potential harm to historic resources and the state park by the proposed development. The last scenario, which seems least desirable from a historic preservation viewpoint, is “relocation of the building to another site.”


Gateway to New Hope and the DCNR have latched onto this last option, according to a source close to the situation, and want to move the historic 1784 tavern from the its current location astride the Delaware Canal to a rest area for park visitors at 145 S. Main Street where DCNR officials had previously announced they were constructing new offices.

The proposed arrangement would save some of the original historic tavern, but removing it from the section of canal where it originally functioned and where it also served as a nationally-acclaimed restaurant/cabaret/bar will obscure the historic context of the structure, say critics.

While relocation of the building to another site, “may be feasible,” according the National Park Service in its Feb. 16 letter, “We doubt that it will remain a contributing structure of the National Historic Landmark. It would obviously lose all relationship to its historic setting.”

Concludes the letter, “We continue to maintain that the development that is planned for this location will be harmful to the historic resources and the state park.”

Other options suggested by the U.S. National Park Service were “Retention of the building in place with no new construction to the south and relocation of the new construction to the north of the building,” and “Retention of the building on site but moved 40 to 60 feet directly south on the island.”

About the author

Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein


  • I do not think it is in the public’s interest for the state to grant a 35-year lease of public land surrounding the Odette’s site for a private development project. Another site for the project should be found. The core Odette’s building would make a fine centerpiece for a park visitor center.

  • The farmers market will have a parking problem. I don’t think tourists come to town to buy that kind of stuff. I don’t think there are enough townies willing to walk to the farmer’s market. Of course I am against the expansion of the Logan! What am I, crazy?

      • The kind of shopping in New Hope is essentially for gifts or frivolous stuff. I should know, I live here. You just can’t count on getting a parking spot to pick up some vegetables to really make a trip to the farmer’s market apart of one’s routine. Walking into town isn’t as easy as one would think. There are hills believe it or not that get tiring to walk up. The Four Seasons Mall has always been an ugly addition to New Hope, inside and out. It should be knocked down to make a multi level parking garage with a roof top garden.

        • For someone so concerned about “architectural aesthetics”….a multi level parking garage on the river? Take the aesthetic part out of it…you will have multiple cars attempting to merge onto Main St? What a potential nightmare.

          As someone who also lives here…I have zero problems finding parking for most of the year and when I do I just park in the existing parking lot by Triumph and Meet Me or just walk/bike it on nice days.

          Been fun…done with the back & forth. I can’t wait to see some of these plans come together.

        • Soooo. The self-appointed aesthete of New Hope wants to put up a 3 story parking garage on Main St. right on the river. Hey Pink, let’s also tear down some other downtown buildings and put in a Greyhound bus station for the tourists. We’ll be the prettiest town this side of Camden.

    • You are not crazy Pink Flamingo, you are simply not educated or intelligent enough to be making comments on a public forum that is geared for literate and intelligent adults. Please reserve your feeble attempts at reasoning or critical thinking to the Sesame Street forum or a Fox News blog; you will fit right with both. In your second sentence I would suggest you edit down to the first three words and stick with that.

  • It’s beautiful historic building that is just waiting to become rubble since there seems to be no alternative or money to save it from ruin. I’ve not seen any alternative plans with the resources to remake the site….there may have been, but I have not seen it.

    I believe the compromise reached is reasonable. They will save the building by moving it to 145 South Main street….and clean up the current mud pit that is there. The architectural plans for the site will add to our community not take away from it IMO.

    Would it have been nice to keep the building where it is, improve the surrounding and save it from further ruin…sure…but since that’s not on the table for numerous reasons…I’m happy that both sides came up with a reasonable compromise.

    Hope the project starts soon…..along with the many exciting developments happening in town – Farmers Market…Logan Project…All good things for our town IMO

  • Very strange stuff. The same day, February 25, this most welcome news story indicating the US Park Service had again nixed plans by Gateway to develop our riverfront and Odette’s into a giant hotel venue, The Herald’s lead piece said Gateway had taken the bizarre option of moving the building across Main Street–one of three odd-ball options by the Park Service.– Just read that Herald story and am dumbstruck. What is happening? How could both stories unfold simultaneously? That both pieces were published on the same day makes me think someone has an inside track on what I see as a developing nightmare for the town. If it’s true, it seems a terrible idea. Not only will moving Odette’s across main street ruin that historic canal site near the Lockhouse, but also our view of the river will be completely obscured by a four-story monster convention center. To me and many others in town, developing that site as planned wrecks the riverfront for locals and threatens an already challenged water supply plus poses unmanageable sewage treatment burdens. What will such development bring to the town in terms of revenue and what will it cost? I don’t see benefits to residents. What might they be?

  • We need to save these beautiful historic buildings. Profit should not be put above the towns history. Flemington is on the course of destruction for someone’s financial gain also. The Union Hotel is Flemingtons victim.

  • Irregardless of my personal wealth, use of my free time and sense of humanity, I will say, the most important part of this issue is, restore access to The Towpath NOW and make the site less of an eye sore!
    Personally I really hate visiting “historical” sites when you have to imagine what happened and where it happened. If history and preservation is the basis of the problem, leave the building there. Gateway ought to seek another place for their boring project.

    • Irregardless is not a real word. Before you make a comment on a public forum, please learn proper use of vocabulary and grammar and make sure that your comment is a valid one; you just prompted me to waste my time.

        • Wow. Thanks for the improperly worded personal assault. Please refer to my last comment and then look at the amount of personal pronouns in your first sentence. It is quite a curious accusation to suggest that proper grammar is in some way associated with snobbishness; I can only guess that such intellectual fortitude has directed you in the direction of someone like Donald Trump.

    • Do you want to Leave the building alone or get rid of the eyesore? Congratulations, Pink, on your personal wealth and sense of humanity (whatever that means)……..irregardless.

      • Steve, I really prefer that the main-historical building remain and all of the additions be removed. I am sick of looking at the equipment. I just want to park there and get on the Towpath. Presently, the site reminds me of the death of Jessica Savage and her dog. A recent commenter criticized my views and assumed that I am poor, jobless and basically have no rights walking this earth.

  • Glad the Feds have the backbone to save this building. The Boro never did.
    Mr. Danaher; please be transparent: aren’t you related to the General Partner of Gateway, the developers who want to demolish Historic ODettes?

  • This obviously has Katherine Auerbach’s name all over it.
    Not sure what her personal interaction with certain members of the Federal State Park Service is, questionable as that may be, her motives are at best suspicious.
    Ms. Auerbach almost singlehandedly attempted to torpedo the bridge reconstruction in Pt. Pleasant, Pa just last year/2015. Luckily, through the efforts of dedicated citizens, her efforts were thwarted and the bridge is being rebuilt.
    I’m confused as to why she pays so much attention to Odette’s while so many other issues go neglected. i.e. Patterson Farm in Newtown, Pa, Indian Rock Inn Upper Black Eddy, Pa.
    Never heard a word from Ms. Auerbach when “Waterworks” was being built. Worse yet when “Waterview” was being built. Not to mention the Historic losses happening in the lower end of the county. Thank You Toll Bros. Without the Odette’s plan moving forward, it’s only a matter of time until the building crumbles under it’s own weight and will be gone forever.

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