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Roxbury hotel project advances

$18-an-hour deal on wages helps win BRA backing

A long-stalled and controversial hotel proposal for a key corner of Melnea Cass Boulevard in Roxbury took a big step forward Thursday.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority gave final development rights to a group led by the Boston design firm Urbanica to build a 108-room hotel and 50 apartments on a 1.3-acre vacant lot owned by the city and state at Melnea Cass and Washington Street.

The project has been in the works since 2012, when the BRA named Urbanica as developer. It was delayed first as developers sought financing for what would be the first hotel built in the area in decades, and more recently amid neighborhood concerns about wages and local hiring.


Thursday, Urbanica president Kamran Zahedi said that hotel operators — it will be a Marriott Residence Inn — had agreed to pay wages starting at $18 an hour, and the project would put $400,000 into a local job-training fund.

They also added 8,000 square feet of retail space to the project, which Zahedi said could be leased to community organizations.

“These were major issues for the community that we worked with the hotel operator on,” he said.

Tito Jackson, a City Council member representing the area, said he helped negotiate the agreement, which he said would benefit Roxbury residents.

“It was a very long drawn-out and difficult negotiation,” Jackson said.

“But I believe that we have a project that will be good for the community, will activate the corner of Melnea Cass and Washington Street, and will pay workers a fair wage.”

The BRA board gave its unanimous approval, clearing the project to finalize its private financing and tax credits.

Developers hope to start work this year and open the project in mid-2017.

Meghan Irons of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Tim Logan can be reached at timothy.logan@globe.com.