Loftel Buyers Appear before JPNA

By John Lynds

While it may not be the quaint Paul Roiff-style hotel the neighborhood was hoping for,  the new owners said they are not going to deviate very much from the original plan.

Boston Trade International, owned by brothers Pravin and Sudhir Patel, bought the large former industrial building on the corner of Orleans and Porter Streets from Roiff last month for $14.75 million.

At Monday night’s Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association meeting, Sudhir Patel said the biggest change is the hotel will most likely be a name brand hotel that the brothers have worked with in the past like a Best Westin, a Marriott or a Hilton.

“We work within the franchise model and our company is affiliated with national hotel brands,” said Patel whose company owns 40 hotels in the area.

Gone is the independent boutique-style hotel that the neighborhood was hoping for. This, according to Patel, will be replaced with a national corporate brand. Also gone is Roiff’s original plan to market a majority of the the ‘loft-style’ rooms to extended stay business travelers that may have been in Boston for several weeks or months.

Patel said this would be strictly a traditional hotel where the average stay will be a couple of nights.

However, Patel did say he would like to explore the ’boutique’ aspect of the original plan and make the hotel more homey and luxurious.

“We are not going to spend this kind of development dollars and create something that is subpar,” said Patel.

However, there were a lot of unanswered questions like what type of signage will be used; if there are changes to the exterior design that was originally proposed under Roiff; and, now that a Roiff-brand signature restaurant is out, residents want to know what type of restaurant will replace the original concept.

With that said, under Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) guidelines, if a developer purchases an already permitted project that received BPDA approval and changes more than 10 percent of the approved project it is subjected to further BPDA approvals and an additional community process.

Developers permitting a project and then selling the project to another developer are nothing new in Eastie. The Seville project was planned and permitted by the Lombardo Family who later sold their interest to another developer after gaining BPDA approval. The project had to follow the BPDA approved plans or face going back before the community with an additional community process.

According to the BPDA a 75,000 square foot boutique hotel is approved for construction on the site and will incorporate an existing gutted historic industrial building. The site last sold in October 2013 for $2.1 million prior to the hotel’s approval. Boston Trade has acquired $10.3 million of financing for the hotel project through Northern Bank & Trust Company.

Following votes in favor of the East Boston Loftel project by both the Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association (JPNA) and the Gove Street Citizens Association (GSCA), the BPDA approved the project.

The approved BPDA plans aims to convert the old industrial building on the corner of Porter and Orleans Streets into a ‘loftel’ style hotel with 127 guest rooms.

Originally Roiff wanted to build 150 guest rooms and add an entire level to the building. However, this plan was rejected by the community and the addition of an entire floor was eliminated to cut down on the height.

The approved proposal now has more parking spaces, up from 65 to 68.

The BPDA also had the prior developers add a green roof and additional lighting to make the building more appealing to the neighborhood that surrounds it while cutting down on noise.

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