Local Government, News

Swampscott seeking developers for Hadley Hotel

(Spenser Hasak)

SWAMPSCOTT — The town will publish its request for proposals seeking developers to convert the former site of the Hadley School at 24 Redington St. into a 60-room boutique hotel next week.

Since Town Meeting voted in May to rezone the Hadley site for by-right hotel development and associated food and beverage service, the town has worked alongside the hotel asset management firm Pinnacle Advisory Group to draft a call for developers.

The Select Board voted unanimously to approve the most recent RFP draft at its Monday night meeting. The current RFP draft does not restrict demolition or replacement of the school’s 1925 annex, however it does highly recommend that the developer preserve the 1911 building’s exterior design.

“It is understood that changes to the exterior of the 1911 Hadley building will be required to accommodate a lodging use. Although not subject to any formal historic requirements, it is strongly preferred that exterior changes be sensitive to and complimentary to the existing historic design of the 1911 Hadley building,” The RFP draft notes. “The smaller annex building built in 1925 may be demolished and/or replaced with other structure(s).”

At the Monday meeting, Select Board member Doug Thompson expressed concern with one portion of the RFP stating that the town is willing to entertain deal structures such as real estate tax concessions for the right developer.

“I don’t feel comfortable advertising that. I feel like that puts us at a negotiating disadvantage,” Thompson said. “I’m sure people will ask for it, but I’m not sure we should be advertising it,” Thompson said.

In response, board member Peter Spellios said that given the hotel project’s expectedly high cost, he wants the RFP to attract a large pool of potential developers. He said that by neglecting to mention the town’s willingness to make deals with developers, it might filter out otherwise ideal bidders.

“We should not be under any pretense that these are financially easy projects to do. These are very difficult projects to do financially,” Spellios said. “We don’t want individuals to not respond because they do a little research and see that Swampscott has never issued any kind of real estate tax deal … we’d rather they respond to us and we have no obligation to accept them.”

Spellios added that the development’s most significant tax revenue generator is the 6.5% hotel tax the town would collect. Select Board Chair David Grishman echoed Spellios’ statement, adding that the Hadley School property had not been on the town’s tax roll in more than a century.

“It’s been off of the town’s tax rolls for 112 years. In my opinion, this is a great opportunity for us to generate that hotel/motel tax and bring a rooftop amenity and meals tax to the site. Anything that we can do to help those developers and those individuals with their responses is certainly prudent and in line with previous discussions and the vote at Town Meeting,” Grishman said.

Spellios said the town will likely publish the RFP by Wednesday, Sept. 20. Potential buyers must submit their proposals to the town by Dec. 14. After that, the town will select a list of two to four developers to present their proposals to the town in-person during the week of Jan. 8, 2024.

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