The limited-liability development company headed by New Balance founder and owner Jim Davis has submitted a revised proposal to change the zoning of several properties in the Fort.
But, even as Davis' Beauport Gloucester LLC — bearing the name of the planned hotel pegged for the former Birdseye property — is sending plans to City Council and Planning Board, a local harbor preservationist group has started circulating a petition of its own opposing the effort.
Citizens for Gloucester Harbor, in an effort headed by Ann Molloy of Neptune's Harvest and James "Jimmy T" Tarantino, started circulating its petition last month. The petition suggests that the proposed Hotel Overlay District zoning conflicts with working harbor and Commercial Street businesses, the Harbor Economic Development Plan, and risks undermining last year's maritime summit hosted by the city. It also points out the city's Maritime Economic Development Board delayed its proposal to change the zoning of several properties in the Fort neighborhood.
"We're all for a downtown hotel," said Molloy, "but we want it downtown, not down the Fort."
Tarantino could not be reached for comment Monday.
Molloy, senior marketing coordinator at Neptune's Harvest, a Commercial Street fertilizer company, said the petition aims to show the City Council that more than just a vocal minority are opposed to Beauport Gloucester's proposal. The proposal, she said, conflicts with the working waterfront on Commercial Street.
She said she's seen a substantial response to the petition so far, despite the fact that Citizens for Gloucester Harbor hasn't pulled all of the circulating petitions back in yet.
Beauport Gloucester proposed a Hotel Overlay zoning district encompassing all of the Outer Harbor side of Commercial Street from 33 to 47 Commercial Street. It includes the Chamber of Commerce building, the Birdseye building, and the parking lots in between. The final draft of the proposal excludes a small building that stands where Birdseye meets Fort Square.
Sheree DeLorenzo, proprietor of Cruiseport Gloucester and a partner in the Beauport Gloucester project, has said the company has no plans for the Chamber of Commerce building.
Davis' Beauport company purchased the Birdseye site from local developer Mac Bell last July for $6.5 million - more than three times what Bell had paid for it two years earlier.
The company plans to put a hotel on the site, and industry experts, as reported by the Times in December, have pegged the project's cost at $75 million.
The Beauport proposal goes before City Council for forwarding to the Planning Board tonight.
Then, the Planning Board will review it with the council's Planning and Development subcommittee. The process will eventually lead to a Planning Board public hearing, which is expected no earlier than April.
Birdseye, said Molloy, is a site suited for marine industry, not for residential or hotel use. Her company tried to purchase the site a few years ago with an eye toward expansion, but was outbid for the property by Bell.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.