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Davis Square hotel proposals offer rooftop bar, art gallery

Posted by Jarret Bencks  March 12, 2013 10:24 AM

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Four proposals for the redevelopment of a public parking lot in Davis Square vary in details, but the overall concept is the same -- a four-story, "boutique" hotel, featuring about 100 parking spaces.

Some of those varying details in design include an art gallery, restaurant space and a rooftop bar and lounge, according to copies of the proposals made available by the city.

Purchase prices range from $1 million to $2.25 million for the 61-space parking lot at the corner of Herbert and Day streets, according to the proposals. Each of the plans either promises, or leaves open the possibility, that some of the parking spaces remain public.

The proposals are under review by an advisory group appointed by the city's Strategic Planning and Community Development office in February.

Three of the four proposals envision a development featuring 120 to 126 guest rooms, but one, from Gerald Fandetti and David Proch-Wilson, features only 80 rooms. Fandetti and Proch-Wilson previously teamed up to convert an old fire house in Kendall Square into the Kendall Hotel in 2007. Fandetti continues to operate the hotel, along with the Mary Prentiss Inn on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge.

Their proposal calls for a non-branded hotel with about 80 rooms, a 1,000 square-foot meeting area, a breakfast area, and a street-level art gallery. For parking, it offers 60 spaces in a below-ground garage, and 20 more at street level.

The underground garage could likely be available for public use, the proposal said, noting that the Kendall Hotel has only 25 spots and rarely has parking issues.

"There are only two days of the year when parking is problematic, New Years and fourth of July," the proposal said. "...We feel we will be able to institute controls and management policies that will allow the public use of the garage without compromising the need for hotel related parking."

Fandetti and Proch-Wilson have offered to buy the lot for $1.1 million. The proposal makes no mention of options for the Davis Square Farmers Market, which currently operates in the parking lot.

The proposal from Davis Square Partners features the most rooms, though not by much. A partnership between Gate Residential and KSS Realty -- the company behind Maxwell's Green, a condo development on Lowell Street -- the Davis Square Partners proposal calls for 126 rooms and an upscale restaurant space featuring a 5,000 square foot rooftop bar and lounge. It would be the first rooftop restaurant in Davis Square.

A 110-space underground parking lot would allow for the 61 public parking spaces to be maintained, according to the proposal.

"The proposed 110 spaces needs of the new development and retain the amount of spaces available to the general public," the proposal said.

It leaves open the possibility for the hotel to be either branded or non-branded. The farmers market would either be moved to Grove Street, or to space at Maxwell's Green, according to the proposal.

Davis Square Partners has offered $2 million for the lot.

Saracen Properties proposes a 125-room hotel, featuring 101 ground-level parking spaces, including 61 public spaces, a rooftop terrace and a breakfast cafe. The development group, which has previously worked on the Dedham Hilton and Hotel Indigo in Newton, considers a branded hotel as a good option for the parcel, according to the proposal.

"Although we are currently looking at this Hotel as an unbranded boutique Hotel, based on our experience we feel the profile of brands appropriate to this infill location include Indigo, Lofts,or Hampton Inn and Suites," the proposal said.

The hotel would be "middle price point," the proposal said. The Davis Square Farmers Market could continue to operate year-round in the hotel's parking garage. Saracen Properties has offered $2.25 million for the lot.

Davis Square Hotel Partners, a joint effort by Sage Management and Park Lodge Corporation, offers the most robust parking in its proposal, but without a restaurant or other retail space. The proposal calls for a 120-room hotel with a 144-space parking garage that would maintain the 61 public spaces with the remaining 83 reserved for the hotel, the proposal said. The group has offer just over $1 million for the lot. The proposal calls for either an unbranded hotel, or a "high end" brand.

The city sent out a request for proposals in October 2012 to develop the lot into a small hotel. By Feb. 4, they received five proposals but one, from OTO Development and Palmetto, has been withdrawn. The advisory group reviewing the proposals was created after a request from Alderwoman Rebekah Gewirtz, who represents Davis Square on the board of aldermen.

The 11-member group, led by Steven Azar, a planner for the city, includes neighborhood residents, Gewirtz, Alderman John Connolly, and Rob Gregory, the owner of Redbones restaurant. A public hearing was held March 5, and the group will hold interviews with the potential developers on Friday, March 15 at 9 a.m.

The city considered three parking lots -- the Day Street lot, along with lots on Buena Vista Road and Grove Street -- in the Davis Square area as potential hotel sites in 2008, but those plans never took off.

Jarret Bencks can be reached at bencks.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on twitter @JarretBencks.

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