Brookline Town Meeting to vote on hotel zoning plans
The future of a proposed Route 9 hotel could be decided at Brookline’s Special Town Meeting later this month, as two competing proposals vie to shape the project.
Developer Claremont Companies of Bridgewater proposes building a 175-room hotel at 25 Washington St., a now-vacant gas station near the Emerald Necklace Riverway at the border between Brookline and Boston.
Town officials and Claremont negotiated a proposed set of zoning changes to allow the project to be built, along with a deal requiring the property’s owners to pay the town an annual fee that would be the equivalent of property taxes for 95 years if the property is ever converted to a non-profit use.
If the hotel is built, Selectmen Chairman Neil Wishinsky said the town would collect $1.5 million in tax revenue during the hotel’s first year.
The goal with the fee agreement was to prevent the property from coming off the town’s tax rolls and used for another purpose, such as university housing, officials have said.
The town has similar agreements in place for three other developments in Brookline, said selectman Ben Franco, who led a town board that reviewed zoning and other issues in the area.
“Those agreements don’t necessarily spark redevelopment, but ensure the town can plan financially for the future,” said Franco. “If you have parcels coming on and off the tax rolls, it’s hard to plan for 100-year capital projects.”
But Hugh Mattison, who serves on Town Meeting and on the board led by Franco, is asking Town Meeting to approve a separate proposal requiring the hotel project to leave enough room for larger trees to be planted on Washington Street.
Mattison said the current proposal is “going to be very uncomfortable” for the pedestrians and bicyclists who travel along that stretch of road.
Elias Patoucheas, Claremont’s president, said his company wouldn’t build the hotel if Mattison’s proposal was approved because it would eliminating the hotel’s access to Brookline Avenue to make room for the trees.
If Town Meeting backs the selectmen’s proposal, the town’s planning board and a design review board would still have to approve a final hotel project design.
Patoucheas said he hopes to open a hotel on Washington Street in late 2018 or early 2019.
“We’d love to see the area redeveloped,” said Patoucheas, adding that his company also invested in a separate hotel project at nearby 111 Boylston St., which opened in August.
The Washington Street proposal is part of an ongoing effort by Brookline to help guide development in a part of town that serves as a gateway to the city of Boston, said Wishinsky.
“That whole corridor has been highlighted for taking a look at our zoning to develop it in a more attractive way than it is now,” he said.
Brookline Special Town Meeting starts on Nov. 15.