DRB hears new 80-room hotel proposal

MANCHESTER - The Design and Development Review Boards heard a proposal for a new Mediterranean themed 80-room hotel, which would also feature a 160-seat restaurant and spa and would be located on Route 7A near the Manchester Town Hall on Wednesday evening.

About 70 people packed the Kilburn Meeting Room at Town Hall to hear the proposal, which was given by Ellis Speath of Speath Engineering and architect Patrick Kane, of East Hardwick-based Kane Architecture.

The hotel, restaurant and spa - which is expected to be about 74,000 square feet - would contain "80 oversized Mediterranean styled accommodation units comprised of a mix of luxury suites, premier suites and premium rooms," according to the project overview & performance standards outline.

The project would include a Mesopotamian-Turkish spa complex with an exercise room, massage rooms, a yoga room, hot room, warm room, chill room and locker rooms. There will also be small year-round indoor pools and an outdoor pool, according to the Basic Descriptive Narrative. The restaurant would be Mediterranean-styled and would offer an all organic menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as 24 hour room service, according to the narrative.

The existing two-story farm house on the site would be restored and used as a private guest residence and would include a new deck. The existing barn would be converted into office space and a storage area and a new deck would be built on that as well, according to the narrative.

The construction of a 9,000 square foot barn is also being proposed and would be used for storage of five to 10 antique cars to be used by guests, a photography studio, a seasonal spa/hotel furniture storage, and trade show and rug and carpet storage.

A 3,200 square foot single family home to be built off Village View Road that would serve as the owner's private residence is also part of the plan, according to the narrative.

According to Ryan Downey, survey crew chief and engineering aid with Speath Engineering, the hotel, 16.7 acres of developable land was required for the project and 23.4 acres were being provided. Downey also said that about 19 acres would be open space and they also had another 20 acres of open space on the other side of the property.

Basdogan said he hopes to begin construction this coming March.

The hotel, restaurant and spa would create 120 new jobs if it were to come to fruition, said Alpaslan Bashdogan, one of the owners of the proposed hotel.

Bashdogan currently is an owner of Depot 62, a restaurant and furniture store on Depot Street, as well as the President of Asia Minor Carpets Inc. - a wholesale supplier to the carpet industry as well as trade and interior decorators and designers that is based in Manchester, according to the company's Web site.

Given the size of the project, many of the people in audience had concerns related to parking.

"I think the count comes from the town department and I believe the principle is you want to provide adequate, but not excessive parking," said Kane. Downey said that only 118 spaces were needed according to the towns bylaws and that 163 total spaces were being provided.

There were some members of the crowd though that did not feel as though the number of spaces that would be provided would be adequate enough to meet the demands of hotel, restaurant and spa.

"I don't know in practicality if that actually works," said Patricia Barnett owner of the Manchester View Motel. "That's not my business, traffic management, but it seems like it could be an issue from time to time."

Barnett continued to say that at times there may very well be 100 cars for an 80 room hotel. The 160 seat restaurant would drive the numbers up further, she said, possibly requiring as many as 80 additional parking spaces. Barnett said those 180 parking spaces would exceed the 163 being provided and employee parking had not been accounted for in that count. She - as well as others in attendance such as Mark O'Neil, General Manager of the Equinox Resort & Spa - urged the board to take another look at the number of parking spaces being provided as it related to the project.

Richard Scribner - whose home would overlook the proposed hotel - said that if the hotel were to be successful there were going to be weddings and events, all of which would require additional parking.

"I do understand the point that you're making the way you have put this together and concluded that 150 parking spaces is enough for employees, for the people who will be there in the building and for the people who will come to use the spa and to use the restaurant," said Scribner. "But it seems to me that maybe it's worth another careful look to be sure that it is indeed the number you will be able to live with."

However, Barnett commented that it was not just the parking that was a concern, it was the traffic that would be associated with the project, the water usage, the effluence and all the other impacts.

A classroom - which is also part of the proposed project - was brought into question by resident David Skulnik who questioned what it would be used for. Kane responded that the intent was for the classroom to serve as enrichment spaces associated with the spa and would be used for such things as a weaving workshop or a gallery to display rugs or other artifacts. The intent was to have the classroom open for public use - something which caused the issue of traffic and parking to be raised again by Skulnik.

"I don't want to kill the parking business, but all of a sudden if it becomes an open room, it could become a display. Forgetting the retail, but it could be an art exhibit creating more traffic, etc," said Skulnik.

The spa portion of the proposed project also raised some concerns related to traffic as it was stated that it would be open to the public and applicant Basdogan said they hoped to have a total of 400 members.

Another point of contention - which was addressed by Heather Newman - concerned a portion of the plan which indicated there would be a bar on the roof.

"The owner proposing it told me there is going to be a rooftop bar. I'm concerned about the noise," said Newman whose home is in close proximity to the proposed hotel, restaurant and spa.

Noise levels stemming from the bar, cabanas, and outdoor pool that are proposed as part of the plan were also addressed by resident Carol Dupont who asked Kane if they expected it to be comparable to the noise generated by the other buildings in the vicinity. Kane said that they were not familiar with the noise levels generated by the other buildings.

Downey clarified that the bar that members of the crowd were referring to was in fact a lounge and Basdogan dispelled the fears of loud music being associated with it that were expressed by some of those in attendance.

"It's a lounge [where] people can have [a] cocktail and look at the sky. There will be no music," Basdogan said. "It's not a rooftop bar that I am planning to design. It's not a discotheque we're building. We'd be out of business pretty soon. [It's for people] to relax and enjoy the nature."

Questions centered around zoning were also raised by members of the audience.

Planning Director and Zoning Administrator Lee Krohn said that a hotel and restaurant have been permitted uses on the lower portion of the property for years.

One resident stated that the upper portion of the property was not zoned for a use such as the hotel, restaruant and spa - a statement Krohn said was correct.

"They do show that boundary on their property and that's why the hotel and the parking area is located where it is because they're not allowed to propose it higher up on the land," he said.

The board was also asked what variances the applicant was requesting associated with the project.

"There are no variances required. Everything that's proposed meets the numerical dimensional requirements," Krohn said. "So, they're under the allowable building coverage. The restaurant seats match the number of rooms under the bylaw. There's certainly plenty of two acres surplus for each of the homes that is proposed and the height of the building is under the allowable maximum, which is 30 feet."

The question was also raised who would be financing the project and if it would be associated with any major chain. Basdogan said that it would not be affiliated with any major brand name hotel - such as Hampton Inn - but said that he did have a business partner, Suzanne Tremblay, who has operated hotels in Canada. Tremblay spoke briefly to the crowd and stated that all of her hotels were privately owned as opposed to being part of a franchise.

The hearing on the hotel, restaurant, and spa will be continued at the next DRB meeting on Wednesday, June 27. The meeting will be held in the Kilburn Meeting Room at Town Hall and will begin at 7:30 p.m. The hotel will also be discussed at the next Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, June 20. That meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and will be held in the Kilburn Meeting Room at Town Hall.

Look for an updated story on the Journal's Web site in the future.


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