Holiday Inn planned for Gloucester, Mass.

March 3, 2009
Develop has signed agreement for rights to build 90- to 100-room hotel

Feb. 28--Sam Park has his hotel flag for Gloucester Crossing -- a Holiday Inn Express.

The developer said yesterday he has a signed agreement with the business hotel chain for the rights to build and manage a 90- to 100-room hotel with street-level amenities in the middle of the shopping center that is in construction off the Route 128 extension.

Park, however, also said he would abandon the hotel part of the 190,000-square-foot mixed use development should the city decide to proceed with a competing hotel -- a Hampton Inn Suites that's been proposed for Blackburn Industrial Park, virtually across the highway.

"If there was a second hotel coming on line," he said in an interview yesterday, "we'd stop work on our hotel."

Park said the Holiday Inn Express would cost about $13 million. Financing has been obtained, and Park said he had found a joint venture partner, the Roedel Cos., based in Wilton, N.H., to operate and manage the hotel. Park has begun foundation work on the hotel, but said he would not proceed should the city decide to change zoning to allow a firm backed by Council President Bruce Tobey to build a Hampton Inn Suites on the site of the Cape Ann Medical Center in the Blackburn complex.

City zoning disallows hotels in industrial parks.

Tobey has said he believes the city can support two business hotels.

Park and Mayor Carolyn Kirk disagree.

Aside from the business competition, Park's announcement sets up a proxy fight between the mayor and council president.

Kirk threw her support to Park, who said he added the hotel to his plans for Gloucester Crossing at the behest of the businesses in Blackburn.

She was disappointed with this week's decision by the council to veto a zoning change that would have allowed a tourist hotel on the Fort.

Since her inauguration, Kirk has campaigned for a downtown hotel to spur the tourist economy. She also has backed Park's development and the Holiday Inn Express, which competes directly with Hampton Inn nationally as the two leading business hotel chains

"(The Holiday Inn Express) is the right business hotel in the right location," Kirk said in an e-mail. "Now, let's set our sights on downtown and seek out a location for a hotel that will support Main Street."

Spurred by a zoning order filed by Tobey and Councilor Sefatia Romeo, the process of deciding on rezoning of the industrial park began in earnest last week. The order was sent to the Planning Board which scheduled a hearing March 23.

The board will make a recommendation to City Council, which could not take up the issue until April. A decision before May seems unlikely.

Park, however, said he would stop work on his hotel should the council approve the rezoning. That would clear the way for the Hampton Inn Suites to build on the site of the medical center, which is reportedly planning to move across the street into the facility vacated by the National Marine Fisheries Service. NMFS moved into a new office building in Blackburn last fall.

Park said he believed two business hotels would cannibalize each other and pull business from the seasonal hotels and inns.

"There never has been demand for two hotels on Route 128," Park said.

He also announced the signing of a restaurant -- the Five Guys Burgers chain -- to join Market Basket, Staples and Marshalls in Gloucester Crossing. Five Guys is a mall chain that boasts fun and french fries and is best known throughout the Sun Belt.

Market Basket, Marshalls and Staples are scheduled to open at the end of this year, or early in 2010.

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