By Steven Fletcher
When Beauport Gloucester LLC officials first outlined preliminary plans for plans for a hotel on the site of the former Birdseye property, they talked of it having 102 rooms.
After the latest review with the city's Planning Board, Beauport's working draft for a Commercial Street hotel overlay zone now calls for a facility that could have a "minimum" of 80 rooms, along with a request for greater floor space, but a lower height limit.
Cruiseport Gloucester's Sheree DeLorenzo, a partner with New Balance founder and owner Jim Davis in both Cruiseport's operation and in the Beauport Gloucester limited liability company and hotel project, emphasized that the latest document referencing any hotel dimensions is a draft, and the none of the "modifications" presented to the ongoing hearing before the Planning Board and City Council's Planning and Development subcommittee are final.
The plans are part of the company's effort to listen to what the city wants in the project, and partner with it, DeLorenzo said.
"I want to build a hotel the city is proud of," DeLorenzo said. "We want to work with them, and make adjustments and make it happen."
The proposed hotel overlay zone would cover an area from 33 Commercial St. — the so-called Chamber of Commerce building owned by local developer Mac Bell — through 61 Commercial St., the address at the end of the former Birdseye property.
Davis and DeLorenzo's Beauport Gloucester LLC acquired the former Birdseye site from Bell last year for more than $6 million with the idea of building a hotel on the site. Beauport Gloucester attorney John Cunningham last month pegged the cost of the project at some $17 million to $20 million.
Beauport's working hotel overlay zoning proposal now states that, within the overlay district, a hotel would provide no fewer than 80 sleeping rooms, and some accessory uses such as parking, a restaurant, function rooms, conference and event rooms, fitness center, pool, spa, retail sales and services and anything else commonly found in a hotel.
In other changes, the Beauport Gloucester LLC draft is now calls for increased setbacks on the property, adding 10 feet to the frontage on Commercial Street. It doesn't add side or rear yard setbacks, however.
Beauport also set the density per "two guest units" at 1,250 square feet, up from 0 as originally proposed.
The limited liability company also raised the minimum square footage from 40,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet; the new version has also dropped the height allowance from 75 to 40 feet — not including the landmark, 75-foot Birdseye tower, which, according to an early sketch of the project, the developers are hoping to retain or restore.
Planning Board Chairman Richard Noonan said the company raised its minimum square footage to ensure that the hotel at Birdseye is the only one that can fit within the proposed overlay district.
Noonan reiterated that the Planning Board is looking, at this point, only at the appropriateness of the proposed overlay zone, not the proposed hotel itself. He added that the board will leave deciding whether the hotel is an appropriate use to the project review stage — if the overlay passes muster.
He said that, with the overlay zone, the board is trying to ensure that, if the overlay gains approval, the zoning doesn't somehow handcuff the actual project.
"(The overlay is) crating a path," he said.
The Planning Board, Noonan said, will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. in City Hall's Kyrouz Auditorium, and could go to a final vote on its recommendation to the council then.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.