New $45 million Chicopee hotel planned on site of now-demolished budget rate hotel
Jeanette DeForge | The Republican, Springfield, Mass. | September 13, 2017 1:00am
Sept. 13--CHICOPEE -- The owner of a now-demolished budget rate hotel is planning to construct a new $45 million development in its place.
The proposal calls for a 98-room hotel, sit-down restaurant, fast food restaurant, coffee shop and gas station with a convenience store to be constructed on about eight acres of land off Burnett Road near the entrance of the Massachusetts Turnpike and Interstate 291, said Frank Quigley, construction manager for the project.
In the fall, property owner Dinesh Patel closed and demolished the Econo Lodge on Burnett Road. Last week he appeared before the Planning Board to show the first plans for the project at 357 Burnett Road.
The company continues to negotiate with businesses which are interested in locating on the lot. No formal commitment has been made for any of the proposed buildings, Quigley said.
The plan calls for a road to be built off First Avenue to access the complex. Currently the only legal access to the property is off the busy Burnett Road, John Furman, managing director of VHB.
"We will improve the road on First Street and we will add sidewalks and a bike lane," he said.
The company will also create a driveway into the complex that will be about one-fifth of a mile long.
Currently Patel and VHB are working through the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act process to win permission to make the changes in the road, he said.
In addition the company has agreed to make some improvements in the signaling system at the nearby traffic lights at the intersection of the Massachusetts Turnpike exit and the start of Interstate-291, said Juliette Locke, traffic engineer for VHB.
Locke gave a detailed report about traffic, which has been such a problem that the City Council has had an ordinance in place for a decade that calls for developers to receive a special permit if they plan build on the road. The ordinance was modified in June to remove the small commercial area, which runs from the intersection of Interstate-291 to New Lombard Road, from the special permit requirements. The property sits in that area.
"A site of this size will not have zero impact," Locke said. But the new entrance and changes in signaling should limit any increase in traffic delays.
The project also calls for replacing the sewer pipe leading to the property, improving drainage and upgrading other utilities, Furman said.
Saying the presentation is one of the most detailed they have seen, Planning Board members gave their approval to the preliminary site plans dependent on state approvals. Before construction, they will have to return for a definitive site plan approval.
If the permitting process goes smoothly, Quigley said construction should begin in the spring.
There were no objections from residents. Officials for Springfield Automotive Partners Inc., which is currently building an about $12 million Mercedes-Benz dealership nearby on the property of the Plantation Inn also attended the meeting but did not speak.