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Pair of hotel projects poised to boost tourism

The Salem Waterfront Hotel at Pickering Wharf plans to add a new building that would include additional rooms, condominiums, and a 110-seat restaurant.

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The Salem Waterfront Hotel at Pickering Wharf plans to add a new building that would include additional rooms, condominiums, and a 110-seat restaurant.

With tourism in Salem serving as an economic anchor, the city’s hotel industry is poised to expand.

The Salem Waterfront Hotel is moving ahead with a plan to expand on land adjacent to its Pickering Wharf property, and Somerville developer RCG — which has invested heavily in Salem real estate — is set to reveal plans at a City Council meeting next month for a new downtown hotel.

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Plans for the expansion of the Salem Waterfront Hotel, an 86-room facility that opened in 2004, were outlined in an environmental notification form released by the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs last month.

The plans call for construction of a six-story, 70-foot-high mixed-use building that would include 32 hotel rooms, 14 condominium units, a 110-seat restaurant, a 60-seat lounge, and banquet and function facilities.

The building would be built on a two-thirds-acre waterfront lot that now is home to a marina.

Part of the proposal calls for the option to link the existing hotel and the new addition with a 52-foot pedestrian bridge on the second level of each building.

Plans to expand the hotel have been brewing since 2007, but since then the hotel’s owners, brothers Michael and James Rockett, have been embroiled in family disputes.

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A lawsuit filed last year against the hotel by the Rockett brothers’ mother, M. Denise Rockett, is still active in Essex Superior Court.

That suit alleges that the Salem Waterfront Hotel failed to repay a family loan of $2.087 million to M. Denise Rockett and the estate of J. Hilary Rockett.

Michael and James Rockett could not be reached for comment to discuss the planned hotel expansion or the ongoing litigation. M. Denise Rockett also could not be reached for comment.

Less than a half mile away, RCG is making plans to build a $46 million development at the corner of Dodge and Washington streets, which would include a 100-room hotel. Matt Picarsic, a principal with RCG, said the company would unveil a comprehensive plan at the July 9 City Council meeting.

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said more hotels would help boost the city’s economy.

“We are very excited about the possibility of new hotel projects in Salem,” she said. “These projects add to our commercial property tax base, boost hotel room excise tax revenues, provide many new jobs, and contribute to our local economy.

“We know if visitors stay in Salem longer, they tend to spend more and patronize our local shops, restaurants, and attractions,” Driscoll added. “Overall, this is positive for our downtown, our tourism and hospitality industry, and Salem taxpayers.”

The RCG plan has been progressing since the winter. In February the city declared a 38-space parking lot surplus land, and RCG’s subsidiary, Dodge Area LLC, was the sole bidder for the half-acre property — submitting a $275,000 purchase offer.

Picarsic said the proposed five-story hotel would be part of as many as three new structures that would add about 200,000 square feet of new retail, office, and residential space. The current plans calls for up to 80 residential units to be built at the site, which serves as a gateway to the downtown, along with a 275-space parking garage. It would include 38 public spaces.

“This will really bring the downtown forward and connect it to Lafayette Street,” said Lynn Goonin Duncan, Salem’s director of planning and community development.

Duncan said the project could generate as much as $300,000 in new tax revenue for the city.

Steven A. Rosenberg can be reached at srosenberg@globe.
com
. Follow him on Twitter @WriteRosenberg.

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