So far, the relationship between the new owners of what has become known locally as the ‘Loftel’ project and
neighbors has been rocky at best.
Since developer and restaurateur Paul Roiff sold his Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) approved project to Boston Trade International for $14.75 million, residents have been anxiously awaiting construction to begin on the boutique-style hotel on the corner of Orleans and Porter streets.
Boston Trade International, owned by the Patel family, has taken some hits in the community as abutters to property have complained for months now that the old industrial factory looks worse than ever.
On Monday night’s Gove Street Citizens Association meeting the owners announced they have retained Attorney Richard Lynds to help get the project over the goal line.
“I was recently retained to bring this project to a conclusion,” said Lynds. “First thing I told the owners was that we need to get out into the neighborhood and let them know were we are in this process.”
Under 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 and an additional community process.
According to the BPDA website a “75,000 square-foot boutique hotel is approved for construction on the site and will incorporate an existing gutted historic industrial building”. The approved BPDA plans allows the old industrial building on the corner of Porter and Orleans streets to be turned into a ‘loftel’ style hotel with 127 guest rooms. The BPDA also called for a green roof and additional lighting to make the building more appealing to the neighborhood that surrounds it while cutting down on noise.
At Monday night’s meeting Lynds said his client plans to honor the design and concept put forth by Roiff’s team when they owned the property. That concept included a boutique-style hotel with amenities like a full service restaurant or cafe on the ground level that would breath new life into the neighborhood.
“The owners operate around 60 different hotels in and around the New England area and have a lot of experience in this type of development,” said Lynds. “There is no changes to this project. With only a few slight tweaks (like window designs) the Patels are committed to do the project as it was approved by the city.”
Lynds understood the frustration from the community about nothing being done to the building since it was purchased from Roiff.
“There’s a lot of talk in the community about why the delay,” said Lynds. “As most of you know there are a number of telecommunication antennas on the roof of the building. The owners have been in a long dialogue with the owner of the antennas on how to best relocate them on the roof to make it more aesthetically pleasing. These antennas are part of a telecommunication easement. You cannot evict them from the building because they are the owners of the space they occupy on the building’s roof.”
Another reason for the delay is that the Patels have applied for a Historic Renovation Tax Credit as part of the project.
“While the building doesn’t strike you as a historic building there is some significance and history to the property,” Lynds said of the old shoe factory. “It does have some historic value in the neighborhood and applying and receiving tax credit funding ensures that the redevelopment of the building is done in a way that respects the property’s history and is incorporated into the hotel’s design.”
The owners said they have been working with the Architectural Commission to bring back the original windows that were part of the building in the 1920s.
As far as a timeline Lynds said he is hopeful that can get full building permits issued before the end of the year.
“If that happens construction would begin immediately and take up to 24 months to complete with an opening hopefully in spring of 2020,” said Lynds. “The owners are eager to get this off the ground, each day that construction is not happening is costing them money. This is something that won’t take forever once the permits are issued.”