GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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March 15, 2013

Hotel backers looking ahead

The Birdseye building will stand a little longer as hotel construction plans and logistics come together, though city councilors voted Wednesday to approve all the permits necessary to build a 101-room hotel on the hotel overlay district along Commercial Street.

Supporters of the Beauport Gloucester LLC’s $20 million hotel project had clapped and cheered Wednesday night as eight councilors voted in favor of each permit, with Bob Whynott absent from the meeting.

Still, proponents said Friday they see some work ahead of them before construction trucks rumble over to the area. Actually, said the group’s legal council, John Cunningham, it is “hard to know” exactly when construction will begin.

“The decision has to be written and signed and filed, and then a period needs to expire and we need to work on construction drawings, and then we could make a decision,” Cunningham said. “There’s a lot of variables here.”

Cruiseport’s Sheree DeLorenzo and New Balance owner Jim Davis — organized as Beauport Gloucester LLC — must wait at least 20 days after the permits are filed before starting work on the project, according to Cunningham.

The date when the city retrieves the deed to Pavilion Beach from Beauport Gloucester is also somewhat contingent on Beauport’s construction plans. Councilors voted Wednesday night to allow Beauport Gloucester LLC to complete walkways and ramps to be built on the beach and pour the foundation for the seawall, before collecting the deed for the city to keep. That handoff must happen within 10 days of the city clerk filing the city’s approval of the special permit for the project, which council approved Wednesday night.

Even with council approval, the controversial hotel project will likely remain under the scrutiny of the public eye, a few councilors pointed out Wednesday night.

Attorney Michael Faherty, who represents Mortillaro’s Lobster Company and spoke on behalf of the opposition at the Tuesday hearing that spanned from 7 p.m. Tuesday night to just past midnight, said he does not publicly discuss his clients’ legal strategies, but is waiting to see plans for the $7 million in infrastructure improvements to the Fort area.

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