City officials consider building hotel in Davis Square
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 08:10
The Somerville Board of Aldermen last week motioned to build a new hotel in Davis Square, claiming that the project would be a strong addition to the community and foster patronage of local businesses and restaurants.
The hotel would be located in the parking lot behind the Davis Square Post Office on the intersection of Day Street and Herbert Street. The size of the new building has not been determined, but it will likely contain between 100 and 115 rooms.
“For several years, there’s been good evidence to suggest that Somerville could support an additional hotel, and our prime location is the Davis Square area,” Somerville Director of Communications Tom Champion said. “This would support organizations associated with Tufts, as well as the demands of the growing Somerville population.”
Hotel industry experts have indicated an increasing demand for additional hotel rooms in the Somerville area, which currently houses two hotels and one bed and breakfast inn. While the city could not pursue hotel construction when the studies were released due to financial constraints, improvements in the Somerville economy in recent years have made the plan more realistic.
The city last April published a long−term development plan called SomerVision, which addresses the importance of hotels in the community, according to Champion.
“[Hotels] are important economic engines,” the plan says. “In addition to bringing visitors to shop and dine in Somerville’s local business districts, hotels generate substantial tax revenues for the city.”
Concerns include how the hotel will provide parking for its guests in an area that already lacks sufficient parking, as well as the possibility that construction would disrupt the weekly Davis Square Farmers Market, which currently takes place in the parking lot where the new hotel would be built.
Ward Six Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz is confident that a compromise will be made between all the parties affected by the new hotel.
“We’ll make sure the Farmers Market will still be able to function,” she said. “This will be an open community process. Proposals will come before an advisor group, who will discuss them openly. Everyone’s voice will be heard in this process.”
Gewirtz emphasized that planning is still in its preliminary stages.
“The committee still hasn’t met, and no vote has been cast yet,” she said. “We’re still exploring new ideas.”
Steven Azar, senior planner of economic development in Somerville, similarly stressed that the project is a work in progress and will ultimately take shape with input from the entire community.
“We haven’t yet released our press for proposals,” he said. “Once we get those back and we have an idea of what can work in the square, we can see where to go from there.”
Alderman−at−Large John Connolly expressed enthusiasm about the plan, adding that the Board will account for the interests of the Tufts community while designing the project.
“Tufts has so many visiting faculty, family members and so on that having a hotel right there in Davis Square would make life a lot easier for people,” he said.
Director of Community Relations Barbara Rubel said she would like to see a hotel built in a location close to the Medford/Somerville campus.
“A new hotel in Davis Square would be a terrific amenity for the university,” she said. “It would be great to have a place both for occasional visitors and for those weekends where we get hundreds and hundreds of visitors, and we’d take advantage of it as much as possible. We’re delighted that the city is pursuing this project.”