Beauport Gloucester LLC's zoning proposal sets the groundwork for a lot more than a hotel on Commercial Street, opening the doors to a parking structure, retail shops, restaurants and other facilities that could be tied to hotel services.
The company, owned by New Balance founder Jim Davis, hasn't released any plans for a hotel at the Birdseye building on Commercial Street yet.
But, the limited liability corporation's hotel overlay zoning proposal for the Outer Harbor side of the street allows for a hotel and any uses that go along with it, according to document. Meanwhile, a harbor preservationist group has said it will oppose any use of that site that isn't Marine Industrial.
City councilors referred the proposal to the Planning Board on Tuesday night.
Beauport bought the Birdseye facility last July for $6.5 million from local developer Mac Bell. Bell had purchased the property for $2.5 million, and then sold it after his redevelopment plans fizzled due to neighborhood opposition.
Beauport, meanwhile, is expected to come forward with a hotel complex project that industry experts have projected could be priced at up to $75 million.
The company is proposing an overlay zoning district for 33 and 47 Commercial St. that would cover the Outer Harbor side of Commercial Street from the so-called Chamber of Commerce building owned by Bell to the point where the Birdseye property meets Fort Square. The proposal does not include the small structure at 65 Commercial St.
The overlay would add uses to the marine industrial zoning, but would not displace it.
Under the proposal, any hotel with 30 or more guest units or "accessory" uses would require a special permit before a company can build it in the zoning district.
"Accessory uses are only allowed by special permit," said John Cunningham, Beauport LLC's attorney for the project.
Sheree DeLorenzo, partner in the project and proprietor of Cruiseport Gloucester, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The proposal defines accessory uses as "uses customarily accessory to a hotel, motel or motor inn." Those uses would include, but not be limited to, a parking structure, meeting and conference facilities, fitness center, spa, retail sales or services and restaurant uses, with or without outdoor seating, according to the overlay proposal.
A hotel on that site would require a minimum of one parking space per guest, according to the proposed rezone, and one parking space per every three employees working during the largest shift. The proposal also states that the accessory uses would not require additional parking.
The document states the purpose of the overlay district is to facilitate the development of a hotel, stimulate the city's general economy, provide public access to open space, and encourage appropriate use of the land.
Citizens for Gloucester Harbor, however, contends that the land would be better served as a Marine Industrial site.
Ann Molloy of Neptune's Harvest has said the group doesn't oppose a downtown hotel, but wants the hotel downtown, rather than in the Fort. Her company attempted to purchase the Birdseye property but was outbid by Bell.
Former City Councilor Ann Mulcahey said Beauport's real estate purchases, especially of a residence in Fort Square, for which the company paid around $900,000, have owners concerned about their property values increasing.
Citizens for Gloucester Harbor has also filed a petition to put before the City Council expressing residents' wishes to block the project.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.