Overlook has eyes for a hotel

September 24, 2009
By

By Seth Daniel

seth@reverejournal.com

There has been no kiss-and-hug relationship between Roseland Development of Overlook Ridge in North Revere and the City Council, but Monday night, everyone got a lot friendlier when the company began talking about a new hotel on Salem Street.

Earlier this year, Roseland came to the council asking for a zoning overlay district for the Revere side of the project that would have permitted the company to construct at least 350 more apartments and maybe some commercial opportunities. With more than 900 apartments already on the Revere side of the project and no commercial activity, councillors sent Roseland packing in a unanimous vote.

On Monday night, the company came back with a new proposal that calls for an eight story, 120-to-150-room hotel located adjacent to the new fire station on Salem Street, at the front of the development.

Roseland spokesman Joe Shea said the company has been working with former Boston City Councillor Paul Scapicchio, of the Mintz Levin law firm, to help secure interest.

“We have some interest, but of course, it’s preliminary,” said Shea. “We’ve been working with Paul Scapicchio of Mintz Levin, and he’s shown the plans to a few clients who are interested in it, given the success of the other Revere hotels and the ease of getting in and out of the site. He seems to think it won’t be too difficult to find interest…Hotel operators are always looking at Boston, being it’s a vibrant city, and needing a site in striking distance. Plus, there’s the idea that expanded gaming could be coming, and that could change a lot of things.

“We could have built another building by the fire station and put in another 150 [apartment] units of residential, but we felt we could look to see where a hotel could go right now as opposed to later,” he continued. “I’m glad with what we have here now, because it’s a much better project than it was three to six months ago.”

Scapicchio couldn’t be reached in time for a comment on the proposed project.

Shea and Robert Buttons, a consultant on the project, projected that any hotel would require about two years for site work and construction.

Shea said he’d like to move the hotel project to the top of the construction schedule.

And then, suddenly, Roseland was talking the council’s language. Previously, only Malden had been scheduled to get hotels and commercial buildings, which are far more lucrative in tax dollars for cities.

Even Councillor George V. Colella, who has voted against almost every aspect of the project, laid down his compliments.

“I have been against this project since its inception,” he said. “I feel at this point it is probably one of the best-looking developments in the city and the North Shore,” he said, shocking his colleagues. “I would hope we can come to some agreement so the hotel can be built first. It’s a good-looking project.”

Said Ward 6 Councillor Charlie Patch, “I think they’ve done a pretty good job correcting the problems we had with the old overlay. I would say I’m a supporter of this now.”

Councillor Tony Zambuto commended the company for listening to the council and coming back with a better proposal.

“We’ve gone from a rock quarry to a city within a city,” he said. “It’s amazing. I think the perfect finishing touch would be a hotel on that site.”

The new hotel plan replaces what would have been a 150- to 200-unit apartment building planned for the front of the site, fronting Salem Street. The new requirement would prevent Roseland from constructing housing on that site. It would allow them only to build a hotel, or nothing.

Nevertheless, there is some give and take.

In exchange for altering their plans, Roseland gets the ability to take down a rock ledge in the back of the site and put up another two buildings, with 350 to 400 apartment units. That would come a few years down the road, though, and there is a possibility that they would put commercial buildings there instead of apartments, depending on the market at the time.

Mayor Tom Ambrosino said he was in favor as well.

“I don’t think there’s any harm to the city to let them set aside a parcel of land and say that a hotel is the only thing they can build on it,” he said.

Council President Dan Rizzo was, perhaps, the only vocal skeptic of Roseland’s new plan.

“I really feel that if we support this change, we’ll certainly get our 350 apartments, but I’m not 100 percent confident we’ll get our hotel,” he said. “I’d like to see a little more than interest…I would like to know what level of interest there is in this [hotel].”

The matter has been scheduled for additional discussion at an October 5th meeting of the council’s Zoning Committee.

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