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Community meeting for D Street Hotels set for Jan. 14

Posted by Patrick Rosso  January 4, 2013 12:07 PM

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DStreet Rndedjtj.JPG

(Image courtesy BRA)

A rendering of the proposed hotels, garage, and retail.

Two new hotels have been proposed by the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority for D Street in South Boston, potentially bringing 500 hotel rooms to area.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority will convene a public meeting Monday, Jan. 14, to discuss with South Boston residents the potential impact and benefits of the project.

The new construction would be located on a 5.6-acre lot at 371-401 D St., which is southeast of the convention center and north of West First St.

The two hotels, which would share ground-floor amenities, would each hold 250 rooms. The project’s parking garage is proposed to hold up to 1,350 vehicles and replace the spaces that will be lost when the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center expands.

The garage would have solar panels on its roof, according to the Notice of Project Change filed with the BRA.

For a copy of the NPC, click here.

Plans also call for an estimated 26,300 square feet of ground-floor retail.

The hotels are aimed at supporting business travelers. The first hotel is intended for short stays, while the other hotel is proposed for extended stays and rooms will include small kitchens.

The site was purchased from the Intercontinental Fund IV 371-401 D Street, LLC by the MCCA in Oct. 2012 for close to $33-million, according to the Boston Globe. Intercontinental originally purchased the site in 2005 and had proposed a $230-million, 585-unit residential development, according to the BRA. That project was approved in 2006 by the BRA’s Board, but never moved forward.

The two new hotels are a major step for the site and the MCCA, which would eventually like to see the addition of more hotels to the area to provide rooms for conventions and events at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on Summer Street.

Currently there are 1,700 rooms within a half-mile of the BCEC; on average facilities in other cities have close to 6,000 to 19,000 rooms nearby, the Globe reported in August.

“Something is going to happen in the area and the question is what it’s going to be,” said Jim Rooney, the executive director of the MCCA. “We’re not trying to recreate the Back Bay but we want to put together the ingredients to create a new, vibrant section of Boston.”

The new hotels are the beginning of the buildup in the area, Rooney said in 20-years he’d like to see 8,000 new hotel rooms in the area surrounding D Street and the convention center.

New hotel construction in the area, however, was banned south of Summer Street until July when the Legislature approved a measure attached to the budget that would allow the construction of up to seven hotels.

The Globe reported over the summer that the lifting of the ban is just the beginning of a $2-billion expansion of the BCEC that includes the possible addition of 2,700 hotel rooms to the area and the expansion of the convention center. The BCEC expansion, however, was not included in the legislature.

“We think this is a good plan,” said Senator Jack Hart, who authored the language that was attached to the budget.

Hart acknowledged that it is a major event for the area, but if done right could benefit not only just the Waterfront but all of South Boston.

“We think it can be a good mix,” said Hart. “We only get one chance to plan this area and we need to make sure there is good planning moving forward.”

Both Representative Nick Collins and South Boston City Councilor Bill Linehan also acknowledged the potential impacts that could be felt by residents in the more residential parts of South Boston, but said the Design Advisory Committee, which includes community members and those appointed by elected officials to help guide the process, will ensure a community voice is heard.

“I think it’s an exciting opportunity for the community, but obviously we need to make sure it’s done right,” said Collins. “The community has been preparing for this for some time and it’s an ongoing discussion.”

Linehan also said the new construction not only means temporary construction jobs for the community, but a return to South Boston residents working on the north-side of First Street and living on the south-side of First Street.

“To bring more jobs to the community within walking distance is important,” said Linehan, referring to the potential jobs created with the new hotels and commercial space. “It’s good to see positive commercial development that will provide jobs and expand the tax base.”

While the hotels, described as mid-priced, are major developments for the desolate section of D Street near the BCEC, there are also a number of residential projects either proposed or being constructed in the area.

In addition to the hotels, D Street is also home to two projects approved by the BRA. One at 339 D St. includes the construction of 24 residential units in a four-story building. Another project at 411 D St. was approved to construct two buildings. One six-story building will hold 90 rental-units and the second five-story building will house up to 107 rental-units.

There are also a number of project proposed for West First and West Second Street in addition to all the construction along the South Boston Waterfront, including the Vertex buildings.

“What we have today is a land island; we’re not well connected.” said Rooney, referring to the area around the BCEC. “The idea of connecting with the community and weaving ourselves in better is part of that vision.”

Residents from the Fort Point to Dorchester Heights will have the chance to share their vision for the area and the two new hotels Jan. 14, from 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center - Room 154.

For more information about the project, provided by the BRA, click here.

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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