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Cotuit

IN-STASIS: Charles Street budget hotel

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Cotuit    0

Developer trying again to build hotel

H. Charles Tapalian wants to build a Comfort Suites hotel and a restaurant near the Charles Place housing complex.

BY GREGORY SMITH Journal Staff Writer | February 14, 2005

PROVIDENCE -- A real estate developer is preparing to build a Comfort Suites hotel and a chain restaurant at the site of a former dairy distribution center on Charles Street in the North End.

Developer H. Charles Tapalian would subdivide the 3.5-acre property to allow for the restaurant on a smaller piece of land and the hotel, with 126 suites, on the larger piece.

The three-story hotel would have a partially hidden parking garage below the grade of the land.

Plans have been submitted to the city Department of Planning and Development for a scheduled discussion by the Plan Commission at a public informational meeting tomorrow.

A public informational meeting is a preliminary airing. A formal public hearing would come later in the approval process. The meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in the first-floor auditorium of the Public Safety Complex, 325 Washington St.

Comfort Suites is one of the brand names of Choice Hotels International, a public company that franchises more than 5,000 hotels, inns and resorts, of which 395 are Comfort Suites properties.

Two years ago, another developer proposed an Amerisuites hotel for the same site and won approval of a master plan for the project, but it was never built. At the time, the Plan Commission told the developer to place the hotel closer to the street than he intended and to use brick and masonry rather than a less substantial cladding.

The site at 450 Charles St., adjacent to Charles Place housing complex and visible to passersby on Route 146, used to be a distribution center for H.P. Hood Co. It contains a two-story steel warehouse and a one-story attached office that would be demolished.

The developer of record would be 329 Development LLC, of which Tapalian is a principal.

His plans show that he would provide 231 parking spaces for the hotel and restaurant, or nine more than the 222 spaces required by law.

The hotel height is limited by its proximity to a residential zone, according to Christopher J. Ise, a principal planner for the city.

Tapalian, of Ponte Vedra, Fla., apparently has not had much luck lately with city government. Two years ago, the city's Downcity District Design Review Committee gave him conditional approval for a tall residential building between Canal and South Main streets, but the conditions apparently were unacceptable to Tapalian, and he dropped the project.

In 2003, he lost out to Carpionato Properties of Johnston in a competition held by the Providence Redevelopment Agency for the right to develop the vacant lot just off Kennedy Plaza that is bounded by Memorial Boulevard and Exchange and Steeple streets.

From The Providence Journal

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" Two years ago, the city's Downcity District Design Review Committee gave him conditional approval for a tall residential building between Canal and South Main streets, but the conditions apparently were unacceptable to Tapalian, and he dropped the project.

In 2003, he lost out to Carpionato Properties of Johnston in a competition held by the Providence Redevelopment Agency for the right to develop the vacant lot just off Kennedy Plaza that is bounded by Memorial Boulevard and Exchange and Steeple streets."

Speaking of which, has anybody heard the status on that lately? I still look at the rendering every so often and wonder if it's ever going to exsist.

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Garris    0

Speaking of which, has anybody heard the status on that lately?  I still look at the rendering every so often and wonder if it's ever going to exsist.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Wasn't that supposed to be the "G-Tech Hotel"? If so, that project was cancelled.

- Garris

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No, it was this one.

intercontinentalhotelProvidence.jpg

It's on a triangular plot of land in front of Citizen's, the Gtech hotel was going to be (I think) built on the parking lot at Union Station (to the left). I don't know if this has been put off for some reason or what but I haven't heard much lately.

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Garris    0

Oooohh... I get where that is now... Where the scuptures currently are off of Memorial Drive... It's a nice looking building, but I'd bet it never gets built, especially given the huge number of other hotel projects. I mean, the Masonic Temple, the Hotel Providence, the Westin addition, just to name three that are in some stage of progression. And what was the final word on what one of the developers wanted to do with LeSalle Square? That was defeated, correct?

- Garris

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AriPVD    0

The main reason that the planned hotel on the triangular plot of land never went ahead was not because of financing or oversupply, but because there is an abundance of water below the surface soil (don't forget, the site is on filled land on the old Cove). Although the land CAN support a structure, it would be near impossible (or prohibitively expensive) to build underground parking. There are no available parking areas nearby, so the project will not move ahead until someone can solve the parking dilemma. Great site though.

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Cotuit    0

I was going to put that project in the Project thread under 'Status Unknown'. I think this proposal is well and truly dead though, and I was surprised to see mention of it in this article. Garris is right about the current hotel market being pretty saturated once the Masonic Temple and the second Westin Tower come online (though currently the city's main hotels are booked solid most of the time). However, I think those two projects will spell the end of the Biltmore, and once that goes there may be room for one more hotel (and there's no shortage of hotel proposals). And if our economy continues to improve, we have GTECH in place, Citizens expands it's Providence based workforce and maybe trying to land a few more HQs, there may be room for more hotels down the line.

There are several reasons I think the Biltmore is on life support, the primary reason being that they keep publicly saying they are. It also simply can't compete with the modern hotels, it's an early 20th century property in a 21st century market. People are looking for large rooms which The Westin and The Marriott at Union Station provide. They are also looking for high levels of service, Hotel Providence makes up for it's small rooms by making service it's primary function, it will become known for it's service. The Biltmore has a reputation for poor service and small rooms (coupled with the fact that it is always under construction in some way). The only way to save the Biltmore is to shut it down and completely gut it (reducing the number of rooms in the process). Economically it makes far more sense if you're going to shut down and gut the place to simply shut down, gut it, and reopen as condominums. If there's a need for more rooms, it makes more sense economically to build a new hotel from scratch.

Some of the other hotel proposals are: the Hilton one that we can't seem to determine the location of; this one on the triangle parcel; the fogarty building across from the convention centre; the old public safety complex, parcel 2 in Capital Centre; a spot next to the South Street Power Station (where Heritage Harbor is supposed to go) is also marked as a possible hotel location. Brown wants an Inn on College Hill (which will probably never happen, but they still want rooms as close to campus as possible), and GTECH stepped away from the hotel at Union Station but said they still want to invest in a hotel in the future, and the hotel they want is an extended stay property where people from out of the country can stay for a weeks at a time, the existing and proposed stock doesn't fill this need.

Also, the Radisson I believe is on Brown property and there has been talk of that being converted to dorms, though the Fox Point neighbourhood association is 1000% against it. If the Radisson were to close, those rooms would need a new home. I'd like to see the Radisson relocate to the Jewelry District where it could serve Brown and J&Ws growing campuses, and also serve RI Hospital.

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Garris    0

Wow, tons of great points in that post Cotuit.

1) The current hotel market: Likely quite saturated, especially since the Biltmore ownership was quite direct in saying they would likely go under and convert to condos if the LaSalle Square proposal was accepted (it wasn't, see below for the Biltmore). In the future, as you point out, who knows...

2) Biltmore: I've been surprised by the degree to which they've publically declared (many times) how close to the brink they are. It doesn't build confidence in booking rooms, let me tell you... While their reputation seems to be poor, everyone we've put up there tends to rave how good it is. Maybe they're getting better. I agree, though, in the current housing market, condo's are probably the way to go, especially since the Cosmopolitan is nearly full, isn't it? And the views from the Biltmore will crush the Cosmo, and they have on-site parking...

3) Projects: Isn't the Fogarty Building proposal, the LaSalle Square proposal, and the old public safety complex the same thing, or am I confusing some of these?

4) South Street Power Station: I had no idea someone was considering a hotel here. It's a good idea, one near the Jewlery District to service Brown, J&W, RIH, and Women and Infants. There's nothing here near the hospitals now where anyone can stay. And the Power Station is beginning to look like a real eyesore with all the grafitti.

5) Inn on College Hill: My prediction: Unless it's part of a total re-imagining and large-scale redevelopment of Thayer Street, which I believe is necessary, this project will never happen. Thayer needs to do something like what the upscale Minneapolis suburb of Edina, MN did with their commercial strip (see http://www.50thandfrance.com/ for their conversion of a retail street) in putting all of their parking garages behind their old retail storefronts so they are invisible. Going there is as easy as parking at the mall, but it's impossible to see the parking structures (or, in this case, perhaps a large hotel) behind all of the very urban, walkable streetfront shops. Imagine how many more customers Thayer or Federal Hill would have if they did something like that?

6) Radisson: I wonder what the history is, since that hotel seems like a big mistake to me. Everyone I know who's ever stayed there has hated it. You are right that the neighborhood association there will fight to their last breath to prevent a dorm there. All of the associations (both rightly and wrongly) see the local student population (and most renters, actually) as enemy #1.

- Garris

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Cotuit    0
2) Biltmore: I've been surprised by the degree to which they've publically declared (many times) how close to the brink they are.

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Cotuit    0

Oh by the way... Thanks to Garris for the heads up! :lol:

Panel approves hotel plan

But questions remain over how far the proposed Comfort Suites will be from Charles Street.

BY GREGORY SMITH Journal Staff Writer | February 24, 2005

PROVIDENCE -- Should a proposed Comfort Suites hotel on Charles Street have an urban feel or a suburban feel?

Some members of the city Plan Commission want the hotel to be built close to the street in order to extend the traditional urban streetscape on Charles, one of the North End's major thoroughfares.

But developer H. Charles Tapalian wants the building to be well back from the street and surrounded by a parking lot, and he says that is what Comfort Suites wants, too.

The project was batted around in a public informational meeting last week, and the commission voted to approve the developer's master plan despite major unsettled issues.

"We're trying to bring back a sense of an urban street," said Steven Durkee, an architect and commission chairman. "This isn't Warwick. This isn't Seekonk."

Tapalian, a Providence native, now has homes in Seekonk and Ponte Vedra, Fla., and is active as a developer in Florida, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. He would own the proposed hotel as a franchisee.

City regulations call a proposal such as Tapalian's a major land development project, and it is subject to a three-step approval process. A master plan, preliminary plan and final plan must be accepted before the project may be built.

The hotel would be built at 450 Charles St., on a site of 3 to 3 1/2 acres now occupied by a former dairy distribution center, near Silver Spring Street. A chain restaurant would be built on a newly created adjacent lot.

In the suburbs, commercial buildings usually are set back from the road, amid parking lots. Roadside sidewalks often do not exist.

But in Providence and other Northeastern cities, which grew before the automobile era, many commercial buildings and homes crowd their front lot lines. If parking is provided off the street, it usually is located at the rear or side of a structure or at a nearby site.

Cities tend to be more pedestrian-friendly, with interior activities visible to and often easily accessible to passersby. Providence planners treat the traditional streetscape and pedestrian interactivity as principles to be upheld.

At the behest of the city, a wall of a new Home Depot south of the proposed hotel site was built along the sidewalk. Lending interest to an otherwise blank red-brick facade are cutouts for nonexistent arched windows and other touches reminiscent of the mill that was razed to make way for the Home Depot.

It was agreed at the commission meeting that two commission members and staff members from the Department of Planning and Development would negotiate with Tapalian on the building design and site plan.

As proposed initially, Tapalian set the two-story, 126-room hotel about 96 feet away from the front lot line, which is at the sidewalk. Planning Department staff recommended that the hotel and restaurant be no more than 50 feet from the sidewalk.

"Charles Street has been a struggle. . .," Durkee said. "We got Home Depot to build to the street. . . . We're not going to repeat bad planning" that is evident in the large setbacks for some other nearby structures such as the high-rise residential building called Charles Place.

State Rep. Gordon Fox, a lawyer for Tapalian, said Comfort Suites is concerned that its guests' privacy would be compromised if the hotel is placed close to the sidewalk.

Tapalian was skittish about any changes that he said might drive up the cost of the project and the nightly room rate.

"This is like a hotel on the outskirts" of town, he said. The Comfort Suites would charge a nightly room rate of $90 to $120 in order to compete with what he described as similar hotels in Pawtucket and at T.F. Green Airport.

"The economics of this thing are very, very delicate," he said.

Even as he pressed for modifications, Durkee was supportive. "It's a very appropriate structure for that site," he said. "It looks great."

"We're not trying to kill this deal."

A revised proposal shown to city planners by Tapalian's representatives this week would place the main part of the hotel about 70 feet from the front lot line. A porte cochere, which had been planned for the side of the building, would be built at the front, extending closer to the sidewalk.

Durkee suggested that in order to bring the building closer to the front lot line, Tapalian could reduce a planned 10-foot landscaped buffer between an ornamental fence along the sidewalk and the parking lot and move one row of parking spaces to the rear of the property. The revised scheme shows a thinner buffer.

A small underground parking garage that was planned is omitted in the revised scheme, according to Christopher Ise, a city principal planner. According to Tapalian, the garage structure was intended to substitute for piles that would be driven into the ground as supports for the hotel, as well as to provide parking space.

Initially, Tapalian had 131 parking spaces, with 26 underground. How the revamped scheme would affect parking capacity was not immediately clear.

The exterior materials for the Comfort Suites are also unclear. Dennis Samson, Tapalian's architect, said it could be a brick or stone veneer or EIFS. EIFS, or Exterior Insulation and Finish System, is a widely used synthetic material that resembles stucco.

The commission prefers a more durable exterior such as brick, especially on the first floor, according to Ise.

Another developer tried to build a smaller Amerisuites hotel on the same site and received preliminary plan approval in 2002, but his effort fell through.

In that case, the developer agreed to use a brick veneer. A canopy on the front of the building would have been close to the front lot line.

From The Providence Journal

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billypc99    0

Back to the old G-tech proposed hotel. First, the triangular peice of land...isnt that paolinos pet project? He owns the land does he not? He proposed about a 12-story hotel on this site after circumventing the soil issues. Second, the proposed G-tech hotel was supposed to be in the Union Station parking lot from what Ive heard (or though ive heard)

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Cotuit    0

GTECH pulled out of the hotel plan because there were too many competing proposals (Hotel Providence, Masonic Temple, and a new convention centre hotel). They said they were still interested in financing a hotel in the city (it might actually be part of their contract with the state), but it simply wasn't the right time.

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Airwaves    0

Any news on what is going on with the proposed hotel on the triangle site in Downtown Providence? Is it really an Intercontinental and is it really going to happen?

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Cotuit    0

Any news on what is going on with the proposed hotel on the triangle site in Downtown Providence?  Is it really an Intercontinental and is it really going to happen?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Welcome Airwaves, as of right now, I don't think there is any solid proposal for that site (which is Capital Center Parcel 12).

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Airwaves    0

I have heard some rumors lately about an upcoming P&S between the City and Carpionato on Parcel 12 meaning they may be ready to move forward. Still trying to find out what the hotel will be (flag). Previously in this forum (just been introduced to it - it's great by the way) - there was a design of the building and it looks to be an Intercontinental (not exactly the flag one would assume to be flying over Providence - especially with the Renaissance well on it's way and a rather large expansion of Westin rooms planned). Who did the preliminary design? "Glassandsteel" had the photo.

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Cotuit    0

Cambridge Seven still has a proposal on their website.

The rendering glassandsteel posted is certainly a different design, but I don't know if these are two seperate proposals or if they are different passes at designs by Cambridge Seven for the same proposal.

I wouldn't be surprised if this parcel was sat on for couple years to wait and see how the new hotels and condos shake out. I wouldn't hold my breath to see anything there before 2007, but I'd love to be proven wrong.

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Frankie811    0

Cambridge Seven still has a proposal on their website.

The rendering glassandsteel posted is certainly a different design, but I don't know if these are two seperate proposals or if they are different passes at designs by Cambridge Seven for the same proposal.

I wouldn't be surprised if this parcel was sat on for couple years to wait and see how the new hotels and condos shake out. I wouldn't hold my breath to see anything there before 2007, but I'd love to be proven wrong.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Cambridge7's design was for Joe Paolino.

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Garris    0

I'm not sure how promising this is, but he has an interesting resume:

"Tapalian owns Charles Place, a 200-unit complex for the elderly on Charles Street. He built a golf course in Florida and is trying to build luxury condominiums in Seekonk.

Tapalian owns the property on Allens Avenue where the strip clubs Cheaters and Balloons operate.

The Wingate Inn, if approved by the City Plan Commission, would be his first hotel project."

- Garris

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Frankie811    0

I'm not sure how promising this is, but he has an interesting resume:

"Tapalian owns Charles Place, a 200-unit complex for the elderly on Charles Street. He built a golf course in Florida and is trying to build luxury condominiums in Seekonk.

Tapalian owns the property on Allens Avenue where the strip clubs Cheaters and Balloons operate.

The Wingate Inn, if approved by the City Plan Commission, would be his first hotel project."

- Garris

He was suppose to build an apartment or condo building on a lot on Canal St near 3 Steeple Restuarant. I don't know whatever happened to that. He's running into opposition on his Seekonk project also.

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Cotuit    0

This sounds good. The article states they plan to offer a shuttle, but an extension of the Gold Line would be ideal, it would also provide service for people going to Walmart (as much as I hate Walmart, it would be good to have the trolleys go there, making it connected to the whole city via Kennedy Plaza).

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Jenkins    0

This sounds good. The article states they plan to offer a shuttle, but an extension of the Gold Line would be ideal, it would also provide service for people going to Walmart (as much as I hate Walmart, it would be good to have the trolleys go there, making it connected to the whole city via Kennedy Plaza).

Hope they break ground soon, as that weird triangle of land needs all the help it can get. Pearl restaurant opened on Charles street across from where the hotel should be, and has gotten good reviews. Home Depot is down there, also, and of course the Walmart is being built. Not exactly ideal urban development, but all things considered, better than nothing at all. In general, Charles street really could use some more development.

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Garris    0

Not exactly ideal urban development, but all things considered, better than nothing at all. In general, Charles street really could use some more development.

Charles is like Smith St or Chalkstone... It has tremendous potential for urban development.

- Garris

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Jerry2    0

I think you can move this to In-progress. The building that was there has been demolished and cranes are on-site.

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