May 01–SOMERSET — A proposal for a "high-quality upscale hotel" with 108 rooms, another building with a full-service restaurant and a third building with a casual restaurant has been made for town-owned property off of Route 6.
The proposal has been made by South Coast Hospitality, an affiliate of High Road Hospitality, which has a history in the hotel and restaurant business.
The proposal would include a hotel aimed at both business and leisure travelers with a full-service restaurant on the west end and a casual restaurant on the east end. The town-owned property of 14.3 acres is located across from Home Depot at 500 G.A.R. Highway.
"They believe this is an under-served market," Town Administrator Richard Brown said. "There are business travelers, as well as vacation travelers, who can benefit from having a hotel in this area. From here, you can get up to Plymouth. You can get down to the Cape. You can go to Newport."
The projected tax revenue that the town would receive from the property would be $431,996 in the first year and go up gradually until it reaches $538,322 in the 10th year. Over those 10 years, Somerset would take in an estimated $5,084,294 in mostly real estate taxes and some meal taxes.
The cost of the hotel building would be assessed at an estimated $5.1 million while the land is assessed at $1,105,500. The full service restaurant would be assessed at an estimated $1.6 million and the casual restaurant would be assessed at an estimated $625,000.
Marc Landry, manager of South Coast Hospitality, wrote in the proposal cover letter that the hotel would be "a catalyst for economic development for the entire region." He said in the letter that the development would provide needed service to the town business community, employ people and buy services from other local businesses. The letter from Landry also says the development would use very few town services.
Brown said the proposal for the hotel and restaurants would accomplish two of his objectives, which would be to bring more tax revenue into the town and provide some community pride from a business. He said a major name hotel locating in Somerset will be a source of pride.
Landry said in the proposal that he is prepared to immediately move forward with the project upon an agreement and necessary regulatory approvals by the town. He wrote in the letter that preliminary engineering has been done for the project, first tier marketing studies have been conducted and there has been discussion with Marriott Hotels for a Fairfield Inn. The proposal he submitted to the town says High Road Hospitality has set aside the necessary equity and has had financing discussions with lenders for the project.
"We have brought the concept as far forward as possible without having a binding agreement in place with the town," Landry wrote in the letter. "All of our early up-front work has given us confidence in the success of our vision and the viability of our business plan, and we are ready to move forward on an accelerated schedule."
Brown said a zoning change will need to be approved by town meeting voters for the proposal to move forward. It is past the deadline to put an article on the May 15 town meeting to vote on. The land is currently zoned for limited business uses. Asked if it would be put on a warrant for a fall special town meeting that the town normally has, Brown said a town meeting would be called earlier than that to vote on a zoning change. He said the town is engaging with a real estate attorney to deal with that issue. Brown said a hotel use is allowed in other areas of town but not on the Route 6 location because of the way it is zoned. But he said a hotel would be a less intense use than what is currently allowed on the property under its zoning.
According to the proposal, the hotel could be open for occupancy by June 1, 2018.
Brown said he has talked to the hotel developers who he said are sensitive to the neighborhood and would configure the development and the lighting so that it won't disturb the Lepes Road residents. He said hotels, like the one proposed, do not have constant all day traffic. Brown said most of the traffic for the hotel would be for a couple of hours in the morning and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at night. Under the proposal, the hotel would have 115 parking spaces, a 5,700-square-foot restaurant would have 100 parking spaces and another 4,500-square-foot building would have 90 parking spaces.
According to Landry's proposal, he has developed, managed and owned high quality hotels with adjacent restaurants in South Kingstown, R.I. and Plymouth and he is currently developing a similar business in Foxborough.
The companies that he works with have built hotels in Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida and other places. They have included Hampton Inns, Courtyard Marriotts and Hiltons. Some of the restaurants those companies have developed have included Applebee's, Corner Bakery Cafe, Denny's and Starbuck's Patio. Landry and High Road Hospitality have over 20 years of experience in hotel and restaurant development.
"We're assured of high-quality development," Brown said.
Brown said the developer has not identified what restaurants would be located on the property.
Selectman Holly McNamara said she met with Landry, his engineer and a legal counsel. She said she helped to get their questions answered and also to connect them to Brown to make sure they had everything they needed to submit their proposal for the request for proposals process, to be sure that no stone was left unturned.
McNamara said the project has a "trifecta" of tax revenue for the town, because Somerset would receive real estate taxes, personal property taxes and meals taxes.
McNamara said it is a high end hotel. She said the closest such hotel is in Westport which is why the developer was interested in the Route 6 land.
"They're from the area, so they know this area very well," McNamara said. "They have a genuine interest in Somerset."
McNamara said that every one of the hotels from High Road Hospitality has been successful.
"I'm very impressed with their proposal and I think it is a perfect fit for the piece of land and for our community," McNamara said. "I very much look forward to working with them and look forward to building a long lasting working relationship. I think they will be an incredible addition to our community."
As an engineer, McNamara has inspected hotels across the country for worldwide banks and equity investors when they were looking at acquisitions and refinancing.
McNamara said she had heard about other ideas for the Route 6 property and was not excited about them. When she met with the developer about the hotel, she said she was excited.
Brown said there was a second proposal for the Route 6 land that was submitted by last Tuesday's deadline, but said it did not address some items that the town asked for responses to in the request for proposals.
Brown said the hotel and restaurant proposal would be brought to the selectmen at their meeting on May 10 for a formal acceptance.
"We're excited," Brown said.