Watertown Zoning Board Rejects Hotel Proposed for Elm Street

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Elm Hospitality LLC

A rendering of the hotel proposed to go on Elm Street.

A rendering of the hotel proposed to go on Elm Street.

Elm Hospitality LLC

A rendering of the hotel proposed for Elm Street, which was rejected by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The Zoning Board of Appeals rejected a five-story hotel proposed to go on a small street off of Arsenal Street in the East End of Watertown. 

The proposal had met strong opposition from residents of Elm Street, and had already failed to get the recommendation from the Planning Board. However, other projects with similar opposition had received the OK from the ZBA.

On Wednesday night, ZBA members said they liked the look of the hotel, which had changed since originally being proposed. However, they said project barely fit on the parcel of land, and towered over nearby businesses and homes.

Steve Winnick, attorney for the developers – Elm Hospitality LLC – said that he believes the project is in line with the redevelopment of former industrial sites in Watertown as seen in other areas of town.

“This benefits the town by creating a larger tax base in Watertown and by moving it toward the future,” Winnick said.

ZBA Chairwoman Melissa SantucciRozzi said she did not like how the hotel sat on the property.

“You have maxed out the set backs, and the garage is pretty much at the rear property line,” SantucciRozzi said. “It is sitting on a plateau in a neighborhood of one and two story structures. I don’t see Elm Street changing at a rate that would not make the hotel look out of place.”

East End Councilor Angeline Kounelis noted that the five-story 104-room hotel would be on about .75 of an acre, while the recently-approved Residence Inn by Marriott at the corner of Arsenal and Elm streets has six stories and 148 rooms on more than 1.5 acres.

The proposed operator of the hotel, Cherag Patel, said that representatives from Hilton came out and said they thought the land was appropriate for the hotel. The hotel was proposed to be a Home2 Suites by Hilton – an extended stay hotel.

Rooms would have had a microwave and dishwasher and there would be a couple of portable induction stovetops for guest to borrow, Patel said. He said the average stay in such hotels is just over four nights.

This was news for the ZBA, and member Chris Heep said it concerned him.

“The concept of this hotel is new to me. It struck me that each unit could have a stove top,” Heep said. “And with guest laundry being provided it makes this hotel indistinguishable from an apartment development.”

The ZBA voted 5-0 to deny the application for special permit.

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