|By Paul Leighton, The Salem News,
Beverly, Mass.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Nov. 24, 2011--BEVERLY -- Seven years after it was first proposed, the Cummings Center intends to go ahead with a plan to build a six-story hotel on its property.
Cummings Properties, the company that owns the Cummings Center, has applied for a permit from the city to put in the foundation for the hotel. Cummings Center general manager Steve Drohosky said construction will begin in the spring.
"We want to get going on this project," Drohosky said. "We've been talking about it for a long time."
The six-story hotel would be built on a 2-acre site at the corner of Elliott and McKay streets and would connect with and extend over an existing four-level parking garage.
The city gave approval for a 140-room hotel in 2004. Drohosky said the company now plans to use some of the building for residential units, either apartments or condominiums, as well as retail space on the first floor.
"We don't anticipate the whole building will be a hotel," he said.
Mayor Bill Scanlon said Cummings Center would need permission from the city to include residential units, but otherwise still has the right to build a hotel from the permits granted seven years ago.
"I think it's good news," Scanlon said. "We'll get a little bit of money out of it from the hotel/motel tax and new growth (property taxes)."
The hotel would be just the third in the city, joining the 92-room Wylie Inn on the campus of Endicott College and the 23-room Beverly Garden Suites on Lakeview Avenue in North Beverly.
Drohosky said the new hotel is needed to accommodate out-of-town clients who visit the Cummings Center, an office park with more than 500 businesses.
"We've heard from various people, clients and nonclients alike, that there's a void in that market between the Salem hotels and the Danvers/Boston hotels," Drohosky said. "Quite a few clients here send their clients to Danvers or Salem or the Peabody Marriott. There's really no in-between."
Drohosky said the hotel would most likely include a function hall.
When it was first proposed in 2004, the hotel drew objections from some neighbors and city councilors over the building's height and traffic concerns. Three of nine city councilors voted against the project, including Ward 1 Councilor Maureen Troubetaris.
Troubetaris said she opposed the hotel then because Cummings officials had said they would build no more than a three-story building on that site.
"I would certainly give it a little more consideration now because of what the economy is today," she said. "I think there's a need for it, especially during Halloween when the hotels in Salem fill up quickly."
Drohosky said Cummings Properties decided to revisit the hotel project now because the company recently completed several other projects at its properties in Woburn and Sudbury. It has also been waiting for permission from the state Department of Environmental Protection because the hotel would be built on filled tidelands. Drohosky said the company expects to receive a Chapter 91 license from the state next month.
"The timing is right for us as a company," he said.
Drohosky said the state of the economy was not a strong factor in the decision to build the hotel.
"Our view is a long-term view as a company," he said. "We don't think of properties and developments as how they will perform in the very short-term. We'll do it, and we'll fill it as the markets allow us to."
Drohosky said Cummings will probably hire a company to operate the hotel. He said there is plenty of parking on site, including 580 spaces in the adjacent garage.
The hotel would be the seventh building on the Cummings Center's 77-acre property. Scanlon said it is the last spot where the company can build.
"I think this will make the whole thing more desirable," Scanlon said. "Companies are more prone to rent space if there's a hotel right next door."
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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