Paul Roiff, a hotel developer and restauranteur known for several high-end projects in Boston, has had his sights set on a former industrial building on Orleans Street in East Boston for several months.
Roiff, owner of such celebrated restaurants as Mistral and Mooo Steak House as well as the r
enovation of the 1903 Beaux Arts building to create the luxury hotel XV Beacon and The Inn at St. Botolph, wants to convert the former Sterlingwear factory building at 175 Orleans St. into a ‘Loftel”.
Last Tuesday, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) held both an Impact Advisory Group (IAG) and open public meeting at the Jeffries Point Yacht Club. Roiff and his development team also met with members of the Gove Street Citizens Association (GSCA) on Monday to go over changes made to the project since its inception.
Since the $20 million hotel project was first proposed, Roiff and his team, which includes Jonathan and Dominic Serra, said they have eliminated an entire floor of guest rooms, reduced the height from 104 feet to 88 feet, reduced the number of rooms from 150 to 127, added a bakery and cafe on Orleans Street, reduced the number of parking spaces from 92 to 65 and made significant changes to the exterior look of the building.
“All these changes were the result of listening to the concerns of the IAG that was appointed by the Mayor and elected officials,” said Project Manager Yanni Tsipis. “We heard that the height was to tall so we lowered it significantly, which reduced the number of rooms. We also added the bakery and cafe because we heard from the community that there was a desire to have something along Orleans Street that brings activity there.”
The reduction of parking spaces, Tsipis explained, was in relation to the reduction in the number of guest rooms. Also, the exterior of the building used combination of metal panels between the concrete columns with punched out windows. These panels are now all glass windows in areas that have non-masonry openings.
Roiff has said that these changes came after neighbors at 156 Porter and the Gumball Factory expressed their desire for a much more upscale hotel with a street presence enhancing an environment for pedestrian traffic. They also expressed a desire for the hotel offer some benefits to their neighborhood like a cafe and restaurant.
The project team also added a green roof, organic screening and additional lighting to make the building more appealing to the neighborhood that surrounds it while cutting down on noise.
At the meetings last week and this week there were still concerns over traffic and parking to and from the hotel, its restaurant and cafe. The project team said that they having been speaking with abutters whom they might work with if the additional parking is needed offsite to quell traffic and parking.
“We have been meeting with potential equity participants as this is a much more expensive project than originally anticipated,” said Roiff. “Even if the site were not a blight, we believe what we have proposed is an architecturally significant addition to any neighborhood. The Historic restoration juxtaposed with the glass addition is handsome and rich. The street level hospitality should add pedestrian activity and a greater sense of safety.”
Also at the BRA meeting last week, members of the Hotel Workers Union Local 26 held a small demonstration. This was reportedly due to Union hoping to enter into an agreement with the Union once the hotel is open. According to sources the Union wants Roiff to sign a commitment stating he would not go against a Union that may form at the Eastie location once it is up and running.
Roiff said it was way too early to discuss Union labor at the hotel because the process is still in its infancy.
Roiff is considered one of Boston’s most acclaimed real estate developers, and known for pursuing projects that the real estate “establishment” has often deemed too daring,
In 1997, together with partners Jamie Mammano and Seth Greenberg, Roiff built and became a co-owner of Mistral, a French/Mediterranean bistro located in one of his most successful developments, Boston’s Albert A. Pope Building. Quickly after the opening, Mistral was named one of the “Top 25 New Restaurants in America” by Esquire Magazine, “Sexiest Bar” by Food & Wine, and earned four “Best of Boston” awards from Boston Magazine.
His first foray into the luxury hotel world, Roiff renovated a 1903 Beaux Arts building to create XV Beacon in January of 2000. In developing the hotel, Roiff adhered to the vision of a classic and elegant environment combined with modern style that would provide an unforgettable service experience for travelers, as well as a culinary destination, The Federalist, with an atmosphere reminiscent of the world’s most prestigious private clubs.
Roiff followed up the success of Mistral and The Federalist, which is now Mooo with two other restaurants, Teatro in January 2003 and Sorellina in January 2006, which he owns in conjunction with Jamie and The Columbus Hospitality Group. The latest two additions to CHG is L’Andana in Burlington, MA which focuses on Tuscan Wood-Grilled cuisine and The Inn at St. Botolph, a limited service boutique hotel & the sister property of XV Beacon. Serving as president of Heath Properties, a real estate development and finance company, Roiff has also served on the board of directors of a professional software company, and as a director of Capitol Bancorp in Boston.
An architectural drawing of the changes made to the project at 175 Orleans St.