Construction crews have been busy erecting the new hotel on a long neglected parcel of land along Boardman Street and McClellan Highway since last winter and construction is right on schedule according to workers there.
Last year, the Boston Redevelopment Authority approved Fall River based developer First Bristol Corp’s. $32 million project to build a Hilton Garden Inn in Eastie.
In 2012 First Bristol, known for the development of Hotels and high-end residential units in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut purchased the 6 acres of vacant land at 415 McClellan Hwy. for $3.75 million in 2012.
Over the past nine months the jungle of overgrown weeds and trees has been cleared and the framing completed. Residents who supported the project in Orient Heights can now get a sense of what the completed product will look like once the hotel is done. A worker at the construction site said a groundbreaking will most likely be scheduled for the spring and his workers are busy to keep the development project on track.
The BRA approved First Bristol’s plans to build a five story, 177 rooms Hilton Garden Inn hotel. After the hotel is built, First Bristol will still have approximately 10,000 sq. ft. to work with and plans to build space for casual dining restaurants and retail opportunities.
The approved project also includes 346 parking spaces, new sidewalks, street trees, planters, and lighting.
The project will be developed in two phases with the 5-story, 102,525 sq. ft. hotel built first followed by a 6,270 SF restaurant/retail building and a 4,035 SF restaurant/retail building both facing Boardman Street.
The BRA said the project will provide 200 construction jobs and 69 to 80 permanent jobs. The developer will also provide $100,972 to a neighborhood housing trust as well as $20,143 to a neighborhood jobs trust.
There was some concern in the neighborhood, especially from Leyden Street residents, during the community process over traffic the hotel may cause. The intersection at McClellan Highway and Boardman Street is notorious for gridlock and makes getting out of Leyden Street during rush hour nearly impossible for residents living there.
Residents expressed concerns that the hotel’s two vehicle access driveways on Boardman Street might add to the congestion that already exists. The developer for their part said they would work to improve traffic conditions by increasing the lanes leading to the highway by one. This would result in two left turn lanes to move more traffic off Boardman Street and southbound onto McClellan. The developers would also create one right turn only lane for vehicles heading northbound.
Leyden Street residents felt this would worsen and not improve traffic conditions on their street. Residents feared that now they would have to cut across three lanes of traffic to make a left off Leyden Street and onto Boardman.
Some Orient Heights residents, like Orient Heights Neighborhood Council President Joseph Ruggiero, have suggested traffic issues on Leyden Street might be solved by reversing the direction of the portion of Leyden that dumps onto Boardman Street.
Under this scenario Leyden Street would remain the same from Bennington to Breed Street with that traffic turning left down Breed Street. The other half of Leyden Street would be turned around and traffic would then head towards Breed where motorists would take a right down Breed Street.
The developer continues to take a look at that suggestion to see if it is feasible.
The design showed to the BRA and community is an attractive urban design versus the standard hotels one might see on the side of the highway.
First Bristol bought the parcel from Sawyer Enterprises, the Boston firm that owns the W Hotel and Residences in the Theater District last February.
Over the years First Bristol has compiled an impressive portfolio that includes retail shopping plazas, professional office building like the Bank of America and GE buildings in Warwick, R.I., hotels like the Marriott Residence Inn in Middletown, R.I. which was ranked the number one hotel by Trip Advisor and residential developments that have helped spur a resurgence of Fall River.