Plans for a boutique hotel in downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts are being well received by the community.
A project that has been envisioned for the past seven years is quickly garnering support. More than 60 people showed up for the hotel’s announcement on the same day the city’s community development board granted special permits giving the go-ahead for the project. Laurie Tierney is the manager of the real estate company MM&D. She and her husband own the selected buildings on North Street in the heart of the city’s downtown.
“If you look up and down North St. the architecture is so incredible,” Tierney said. “You just envision this great, pretty little hotel. Not huge. Not big. Not a chain. Just a cute little boutique hotel.”
The aptly named Hotel on North will be managed by Main Street Hospitality Group. The company operates Berkshire County’s most famous hotel, the Red Lion Inn, located in Stockbridge, and The Porches Inn, in North Adams. COO Bruce Finn says it will offer a second downtown lodging option for the first time in four decades.
“For people who are a little more discriminate, discerning travelers that want a difference,” Finn explained. “They want an experience, not just a bed and a shower.”
The 68,000-square foot, $11 million project is expected to result in 80 construction jobs and 35 full- and part-time staff. The three floor 45-room hotel will include three conference areas, a sky light atrium, a bar, a revolving door and a marquee sign with “Hotel” spelled out in lights over the entrance. The two buildings date back to the late 19th century and are listed as national historic sites. Sarah Eustis is the CEO of Main Street Hospitality and the daughter of Nancy Fitzpatrick, owner of the Red Lion Inn.
“We want to preserve as much of the existing building as we can and kind of reinvent some of the great elements of it,” Eustis said. “The elevator cab is one of those. Our thought is to do a mini gift shop within the old elevator.”
Eustis says the hotel will seek local artisans to design permanent features like furniture and décor as well as offer lobby galleries to display local art. The management group says research shows the hotel will tap into thousands of midweek corporate business visitors to Pittsfield-based companies like General Dynamics, SABIC and Berkshire Health Systems.
“We also are within walking distance of 20 restaurants and six performing arts venues,” Finn said. “We feel that there is a great location here for those travelers that are coming on business. They may be staying three or four nights a week.”
Room rates will range from $130 to $200 a night depending upon the season and day of the week. Pittsfield Mayor Dan Bianchi says the project is a perfect candidate for investment tax credits.
“It’s going to allow us as a community to be able to go to Boston, demonstrate the private investment that’s being made and make a real pitch for additional public works funds to continue our renovation of North St.,” Bianchi said. “So it’s going to have a lot of implications.”
The hotel entrance will be sandwiched between two restaurants, Spice Dragon and Mad Jacks BBQ, which are currently leasing their space from MM&D real estate. Both owners support the plan, and Mad Jacks owner Jabari Powell says having a hotel right upstairs will increase business during slow times.
“The Berkshires itself is a very seasonal location,” Powell said. “In the summertime, it’s not hard to bring people in from Memorial Day to Labor Day. You get people in all the time, it’s great. It’s the offseason which is the really difficult time around here to get through.”
The hotel group has secured 41 on-site parking spaces and is working on more, but will also offer valet parking. Hoping to open in spring of 2015, Tierney says she wants the hotel to be a destination in itself.
“South County has been on the map for so long, we really want to bring Pittsfield and make it a destination,” Tierney said. “So we have to find a great bartender.”