|By Jake Berry, Cape Cod Times, Hyannis,
Mass.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Sep. 16, 2009--HYANNIS -- The shape of Cape Cod's economy has changed drastically since developer Stuart Bornstein first proposed a controversial five-story hotel more than a year ago. But even in the midst of a recession, the new economic reality is this, Bornstein said yesterday: Hyannis needs this hotel now more than ever.
The five-story Hilton Garden Inn, to go before the Barnstable Town Council starting this week, would bring more than $250,000 in tax revenues each year to the town, Bornstein said. It would add about 50 full- or part-time jobs, he said, and as many as 200 during construction.
The 132-room hotel, proposed at the corner of Route 28 and Spring Street, requires two-thirds approval from the council, which will launch discussion on the matter tomorrow night. Only 12 of the council's 13 seats are currently filled -- Councilor Leah Curtis vacated her seat this summer when she moved to Georgia. But the hotel proposal still needs to garner two-thirds of the 13 votes to pass.
"It's a different world than when we started," Bornstein said of the project, estimated to cost about $20 million. "Fewer and fewer people are coming here. It's a very difficult environment to do anything like this. ... That's why we need something like this."
The 93,000-square-foot hotel, equipped with an indoor swimming pool and a health club, as well as solar panels and other green-friendly features, is designed to draw high-end tourists and business travelers, Bornstein has said -- drawing support from some town planners and business professionals.
After months of consideration, the town planning board approved the project in May. Because it lies in the "Growth Incentive Zone," it does not require approval from the Cape Cod Commission.
"It's different from the hotels we have around here," Deborah Converse, president of the Hyannis Area Chamber of Commerce, said yesterday. "It could bring in a whole different class (of tourists) than we've seen."
But some area residents, community groups and other opponents contend the building is too large for the neighborhood, across from Barnstable Municipal Airport.
"It's a very big building," said Don Keeran, assistant director of the Association to Preserve Cape Cod. "Overall, we think it's inconsistent with the vision and the use of that area."
If it succeeds, the hotel, to replace a vacated church and former furniture warehouse on the 2.3-acre lot, would only help draw additional cars to the stretch of Route 28 between the Airport Rotary and Willow Street, which is already burdened by too much traffic, according to Town Councilor Tom Rugo.
State and local traffic engineers are considering ways to improve the Route 28/Willow Street intersection.
"This (project) is a non-starter," Town Councilor Tom Rugo said yesterday. "I am beside myself to understand how the town could be considering developing anything so big without addressing the traffic first."
Now preparing to take up the matter, other councilors have questions about parking and remediation work, among other concerns. But for some, the possible gains outweigh the prospective losses.
"We're in an economic downturn," said Councilor Harold Tobey, the Council Vice President. "This brings in a huge amount of tax dollars. It brings jobs. ... This is the kind of project we need in times like these."
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Copyright (c) 2009, Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.
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