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Hopkinton

Hotel proposed off West Main Street in Hopkinton

One of the developers of the expansive Legacy Farms project in Hopkinton is proposing an eight-story hotel to anchor a housing, retail, and office complex across town, off Interstate 495 at West Main Street.

“We are proposing a mix of different uses that work in concert,” said Steven Zieff, with Wayland-based Eden Management Inc. “We want some level of vitality to return to the site.”

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Zieff and his partner, Finley Perry, want a zoning change for the 56-acre site, a mixture of undisturbed land and a large parking lot next to an office building that has been unoccupied for years.

The land is zoned for industrial use, and is in an overlay district that would allow a hotel, according to Elaine Lazarus, Hopkinton’s director of land use, planning, and permitting, who said it will be up to Town Meeting to decide whether to rezone the parcel to allow the mixed-use development.

The annual session convening May 5 might take up the proposal, which would also require special approval for the hotel to be built to eight stories, or five stories higher than allowed under current zoning.

“The town has already decided this would be a good location for a hotel,” said Lazarus.

The parcel, known as the Crossroads Redevelopment District, has been on the town’s priority list for upgrading “for some time,” she said.

‘It’s the opposite of the Joni Mitchell song. We want to go up instead of out so we can restore more of the site to a natural state.’

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Lazarus said the rezoning is needed to allow bigger restaurants, larger retail spaces, and housing on the property, as well as for allowing the taller hotel structure.

Zieff said he and Perry are committed to working with the town to come up with a plan that will revitalize the area.

“It’s the opposite of the Joni Mitchell song,” Zieff said, referring to the singer’s 1970 lament about developers who “paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

According to a PowerPoint presentation the developers made to town officials, the proposed zoning change to allow the higher hotel would decrease the building’s footprint by 40 percent, and allow an additional 5 acres of open space at the site. As a result, Zieff said, the development would “de-pave paradise.

“We want to go up instead of out so we can restore more of the site to a natural state,” he said.

In addition to the hotel, Zieff said, the phased development would include restaurants, office space, stores, outdoor recreational space, and housing.

According to Lazarus, the plans, which are still in the early stages, include 375 units of multifamily housing.

“In this location, that number of units is reasonable,” she said.

It is the type of development that Zieff has experience putting together, he said.

Zieff was the project manager at Legacy Farms, which is adding hundreds of single-family homes, condominiums, and apartments on 730 acres off East Main Street, near the Ashland town line.

He was also involved in the Cronin’s Landing development on Moody Street in Waltham, done in the mid-1990s, which turned the shuttered Grover Cronin’s department store property into an upscale apartment, retail, and office complex that helped revitalize the area.

Zieff said he was also involved in the development teams responsible for the Weeks School Apartments in Newton, Riverside Towers in Medford, and Avalon Bear Hill and Longview Place in Waltham, among many others.

In addition to the developments, Zieff said, he also has experience improving infrastructure, including to the Moody Street bridge over the Charles River in Waltham, and the intersection of routes 135 and 85 in downtown Hopkinton.

He said he wants to make the same kinds of improvements to the traffic cloverleafs off Interstate 495 at West Main Street near his proposed development.

“We are committed to working with the town,” he said. “We have a vision for improving the whole area.”

Traffic improvements, additional equipment needed to respond to emergencies in the top floors of the hotel, and other issues would likely be part of a mitigation package to be negotiated.

Zieff said he and Perry are working toward getting the zoning changes onto the warrant for this spring’s annual Town Meeting.

The Planning Board will hold a public hearing on the zoning changes in April, according to Lazarus, who said the board would then vote on whether to move the issue onto the warrant for Town Meeting on May 5.

In order to be passed, zoning changes must receive two-thirds approval by Town Meeting. Hopkinton has an open Town Meeting, which means any local registered voter can take part.

“We are doing a lot of outreach in hopes that it is ready for this year’s Town Meeting,” Zieff said. “But if it’s not ready, it’s not ready.”

Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at eishkanian@ gmail.com.
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