By Cary Shuman
The Gove Street Citizens Association (GSCA) voted by a 30-4 margin at its monthly meeting Monday to support the construction of the Loftel Boston hotel on the site of a former factory at 151 Porter St., which is at the corner of Orleans Street.
Members of the GSCA cast their ballots following a presentation about the $20 million hotel project by Yanni Tsipis, senior vice president of Colliers International, who was representing real estate developer Paul Roiff, owner of the proposed boutique hotel and owner/operator of the 15 Beacon Street and The Inn at St. Botolph hotels in Boston.
Tsipis outlined some of the changes to the original plan: lowering of the number of guest rooms from 127 to 123; eliminating outdoor seating at the street-level restaurant; and increasing parking from 65 to 68 spaces.
The rooftop of the hotel will have a business center and fitness center for guests.
Tsipis said a shuttle will run to and from Logan Airport to reduce guest driving and parking and the shuttle will not need to back up while on site, thus eliminating the beeping sound of the shuttle’s alarm system while backing up late at night.
“We’re very, very excited about this project,” Tsipis told the large assemblage that included Claudia Correa, East Boston’s liaison to Mayor Walsh’s Office of Neighborhood Services, Jackie Indrisano of Sen. Anthony Petruccelli’s office; and Gabriela Coletta of Rep. Adrian Madaro’s office.
Tsipis provided residents with an artist’s rendering of the hotel, showcasing how the property’s newness, beauty and landscaping will enhance the neighborhood.
“We want to try to restore some of the historic fabric of the building and really celebrate the fact that it’s a beautiful, historic building. It’s an industrial building but it’s very, very attractive.”
During a question and answer session, Tsipis assured residents that 68 parking spaces would be “more than enough” for the hotel, adding that the majority of guests would take advantage of the free shuttle bus and be using public transportation.
Tsipis’s comments about the parking spaces at the hotel came in response to Bremen Street resident Adriana Galeano’s independent (of the GSCA) petition citing residents’ opposition to the project and concerns about traffic and parking. Galeano said her petition contained 160 signatures.
Tsipis was asked an interesting question about why the address of the new hotel is 151 Porter Street instead of the original address of Orleans Street.
“The biggest reason is that there is an entrance for guests on Porter Street and it’s across from 156 Porter, so I think we felt like it was a little bit more of a residential address there and the main entrance for guests would be a Porter Street address,” responded Tsipis.
Following the question and answer session, GSCA members voted to overwhelmingly support the hotel project. Residents had to have attended two GSCA meetings on the topic in order to vote in the election.
GSCA Chairman Jack Scalcione, who chaired the meeting alongside GSCA President Gina Scalcione at the front of the Noddle Island Community Room at the Logan Rental Car Center, said the association will send a letter of support to the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.
Scalcione said he and his wife [Gina] are in favor of the project.
“They came in with the best option for the property,” said Scalcione. “The thing is, was the option going to be compatible with the neighborhood and could it be accepted. They have reworked this project several times and one of the most significant changes they made was to remove a ground-floor, outside restaurant which would have been too noisy for residents, especially people at 156 Porter St. They agreed with that and took that out and now they seem to flying pretty well and we’re going to send in a [positive] recommendation letter.”