|By Jake Berry, Cape Cod Times, Hyannis,
Mass.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 19, 2009--HYANNIS -- A five-story hotel proposed for Spring Street and Route 28 cleared a major hurdle last night as the Barnstable Planning Board approved the project after more than a year's worth of meetings.
Following a series of meetings that date back to last spring, planning board members finally settled questions on parking, traffic counts and other matters, voting 4-1 to approve a 12-page regulatory agreement that will now go to the Barnstable Town Council for final approval. Board member Marlene Weir voted against the agreement, while Ray Lang left the meeting before casting a vote.
If the council approves the Hilton Garden Inn -- it's likely to take up the matter in the coming weeks -- the building, at 55 feet, would become one of Cape Cod's tallest.
"We've been looking at this project for a year and longer," board member Paul Curley said before he cast his vote in favor of the hotel. "(The developer) is going to take a blighted area, turn (it) around and bring some money into this town. ... It's time get this thing moving."
The 93,000-square-foot hotel, which would include 132 rooms over the 2.3-acre property, has met with criticism from some area residents and civic groups who fear it is too big for the largely residential neighborhood.
But throughout the process, developer Stuart Bornstein has contended that the hotel, to serve an upscale business clientele, would bring a much-needed upgrade to Hyannis' current mix of hotels and motels, most of which date back to the 1970s.
Outfitted with solar panels and energy-efficient lighting, as well as other environmentally friendly features, the hotel, likely to cost about $20 million, would create a beautiful gateway to Hyannis, Bornstein said. "This will be a poster child for all of Cape Cod for green (technology)," he said. The hotel would generate money for the community -- at least $450,000 a year in tax revenue, Bornstein said -- and it would create jobs: 200 during construction and another 20 full time and 30 part time once it opens.
Bornstein would be ready to demolish the vacated church and furniture warehouse building that currently front the lot, he said.
Construction could start by the fall and the building could be ready to open 12 months later.
But the town council may not be ready to launch quite yet, several councilors said.
Issues of traffic, remediation work and the building's size are likely to raise similar questions among councilors just as they did with the planning board, Councilor Henry Farnham said last week, echoing the sentiments of several other councilors.
"There's a lot of interest in this project. And there's a lot of questions around it," said Farnham, who has not yet determined if he will support the project. "We'll probably have to take our time to make sure it's in everyone's best interests."
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Copyright (c) 2009, Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.
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