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Thoughts: Building a Hotel on Davis Square Parking Lot

A tidbit from Thursday night's Board of Aldermen agenda suggests there may be some plans for hotel in the heart ot Davis Square.

Here's a tidbit from the Somerville Board of Aldermen's Thursday-night agenda:

The mayor's office has submitted a request asking the Board to "declare the Day/Street Herbert Street parking lot available for disposition as a hotel use."

This is the parking lot behind the Davis Square Post Office that hosts farmers markets on Wednesdays.

Those are all the details we have at the moment, but it raises some interesting questions.

Would a hotel in Davis Square be successful? What would happen with all that parking? Do you think building a hotel in the area is a good idea or a bad idea?

We'll provide some more information after Thursday's Board of Aldermen meeting.

Jodie Dow-Novaes August 16, 2012 at 11:54 AM
my first thought is that it is not a good idea - the parking is needed in the area. also, a hotel would make it a nightmare with more traffic and not enough places to park! also, there are a loot of hotels in the surrounding area. if anything, maybe a hostel somewhere in the area would be good (less apt to be added traffic, and a low-cost option would be good for traveling students or familiy members visiting students, or sightseers) - Jodie
Jocelyn Fassett August 16, 2012 at 12:22 PM
This parking lot is a multi-use space, which is a good thing. If a hotel in Davis is really something necessary, why not reclaim space in an existing building? Is that really a business that we need in this area? Why not encourage more of a bed and breakfast type alternative to the hotels (e.g., locally owned and operated and often lower cost)? That could set Somerville apart from the city and likely bring in clients more closely aligned with the flavor of Davis Square. I would think the ecological foot print would be less than a hotel as well?
Christopher Ferry August 16, 2012 at 01:15 PM
I like the idea of a hotel in Davis. While there are hotels around, they are all a car-ride from the West Somerville/Davis area. I think Davis could survive without the parking, but I do think the multi-use aspect of the space is important, whether as used for the Farmer's market or a staging space for the Honk! parade. Maybe the developers of a hotel could pitch-in to make Seven Hills Park more accessible as a semi-permananet new Farmer's Market area?
Matt C August 16, 2012 at 01:16 PM
A hotel is a fine use of the space, the big considerations would be look of the place - it shouldnt overwhelm the square and no one wants to see a big sign in front of it. something boutique-like could work like the kimpton hotels downtown and in cambridge. As for parking its a simple problem to solve - require that the hotel preserve the same number of spots plus those that it will need for additional occupants and put a cap on the cost to keep in inline with the rates elsewhere. The challenge is going to be finding a business that will want to build a small hotel that will almost be as deep as it is tall (in order to support parking requirements).
Paula Woolley August 16, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Having spent last year looking at colleges, I think Davis Sq is a great location for a hotel and would definitely pull in families looking at colleges, as well as families visiting students in the area, people attending conferences at Tufts and Harvard, etc. -- many of whom would be arriving by plane and would appreciate a place they can reach by subway. Putting a hotel in Davis Sq would be great for the restaurants there too. There actually aren't great hotel options near West Somerville, (I looked online at the place on rte 2 for out-of-town visitors and it seemed pretty disgusting.) I agree that it would be best to avoid a huge chain hotel with a large sign, but it would be nice to have a hotel that's not prohibitive in price. As for parking, I imagine the hotel would put parking lots below ground. Seven Hills Park seems a great place for the farmer's market, especially if the farmers could park their trucks at the meters on the street behind it, which seem to be empty most of the time. Besides the money tourists would spend at local restaurants, there's usually a high hotel tax in most cities, so a hotel could boost the local economy in many different ways. It wouldn't be like the people staying at La Quinta or Holiday Inn who probably spend their money in Boston rather than Somerville, or are just passing through the city.
wenzday August 20, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Does the city own that parcel and is looking to sell it?
Warren Dew August 23, 2012 at 10:55 PM
If they put a hotel in there, they ought to lift the 40 foot height limit, and maybe put an extra story on the HCHP parking structure to make up the parking.
Patrick August 24, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Not to say, No, Chris, but I think Seven Hills Park has a lot of obstacles that would need to be overcome before making it as a multi-use space of equal or better suitability. It would need to have more pavement to be able to accommodate both the Farmer's Market and/or other event while still allowing the steady stream of bike and foot traffic. That means it would probably also need to be leveled off, as much of the park is a gentle slope. I suspect any hotel that would put up the kind of money to do such tasks, and the countless other projects around parking, etc, would be much bigger than most people would want in Davis.
Patrick August 24, 2012 at 02:17 PM
"Deep as it is tall" - I would be interested in hearing whether or not this parking lot is above the subway tunnels or support system at any point ...
Ron Newman September 07, 2012 at 05:00 AM
I'm happy to see a hotel on my street, but only if another place can be found for the farmers' market. Not Seven Hills Park, please -- keep that space green!
kevin thomas crowley September 07, 2012 at 11:24 AM
what happened to the "fake" hotel the city approved to be built near porter square? of course it was all a front for the true owners to be mamed later. the Woodbridge Inn once existed on college ave. it was a nice joint that was ahead of its time. i worked there as a ckeck-in clerk while in college. the inn (hotel) slowly went downhill and in the end all that was open was a happening barroom in its cellar. the drinking age had been lowered to 18 years of age, and young people flocked there while the lower drinking age remained in effect. the law changed again to age 21 and the crowds at the barroom went away. shortly thereafter the the quaint inn mysteriously burned down. torching a failing property was a form of urban renewal back then.
Steve December 31, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Why not use the Powderhouse school land on Broadway near Teele Sq? There is access to Holland Ave so Davis Sq would be easy walking distance. The city could require some green space and would help drive more business to Teele Sq? The city could lease the land or sell it. Either way the funds could be used to improve green space and roads. Instead it's been unused for 8 yrs. Speaking of unused property, what about the old Star Market on Broadway near Temple St. In such a great city as Somerville, it strikes me as odd that prime real estate sits idle and while they come up with ideas which could take away from the reason Somerville is so great (farmers market, local parking which brings business to Davis Sq, etc).
Courtney O'Keefe December 31, 2012 at 04:57 PM
The city is looking to sell the Powderhouse School to a private developer: http://www.wickedlocal.com/somerville/news/x1353223217/Somerville-prepares-to-sell-Powder-House-Elementary-School#axzz2GeKsrtrr
Andrea January 11, 2013 at 09:00 PM
there is a Bed and Breakfast right at the end on Day Street on Mass. Ave - a 5-minute walk from Davis Square
mplo January 13, 2013 at 04:02 PM
As a 24-year Somerville Resident, I'm not too crazy about the idea of a hotel being built in Davis Square. There's enough vehicular traffic congestion and insufficient parking as it is. Why add to the problem?
AHM January 13, 2013 at 04:29 PM
I doubt that there will be any real interest in making a hotel there. The problem will be that they will have to make money. The rooms will have to be very expensive to offset the costs of it being small. The big chains may be able to pull it off if they would even want to. Small one, no. No one is going to build it if there is nothing in it for them. Another thought, what if a small company built it and later a chain bought it out? Will they keep the light on?
Ron February 25, 2013 at 09:24 PM
A large hotel would irrevokably change the nature of Davis Square by adding traffic congestion. Look at the line of cars trying to enter the square on College Avenue at most hours the day already! I am the owner of a 5-room bed and breakfast on Morrison Ave. Most of our guests use public transportation and are otherwise low-impact. The kind of guest who eschews our place because he prefers the anonymity of a hotel is less likely to be the kind of thoughtful and considerate temporary resident who we tend to get. Talk to someone who lives next the Holiday Inn in Somerville or next to any number of hotels in Kendall Square or Harvard Square about the problem of prostitution. I suggest instead to push for more bed and breakfasts of our ilk.

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