February 28, 2012

Planning Board Advances Holiday Inn Expansion

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Hart Hotels’ proposal to dramatically expand its Holiday Inn hotel near the Commons has received substantial support from the community and is well underway to gaining approval for construction, board members said at a meeting of the Planning and Development Board Tuesday.

In an effort to increase its guest occupancy on weekdays, Hart Hotels proposes to expand  the hotel on South Cayuga Street through two new additions. More than 110 rooms in the hotel’s north, south and west guest room wings will be demolished and replaced by a banquet and meeting space, a 10-story tower with 115 new rooms and a rooftop entertainment complex.

Govind Acharya, chair of the board, called the proposal “the most ideal sort of project that we get.”

“[The improvements will help in] building our density, bringing more people into the city, improving our tax pays and it’s going to make [the hotel] more aesthetically pleasing … I don’t think there was anyone who was opposed to it,” Acharya said.

During the board’s meeting on Tuesday, however, some board members expressed their concerns about the renovation’s effects on the neighborhood.

In a letter to the board, City Engineer Tim Logue questioned the safety of two new curbcuts, or cuts in sidewalks that give cars access to properties. Meghan Thoreau Jacquet, a member of the board, added that she is concerned about the loss of 21 parking spaces and the partial removal of the landscape at the corner of Clinton and Cayuga Streets.

Despite these worries, John Schroeder ’74, a member of the planning board and The Sun’s Production Manager, said he believes the project will be easily approved.

“The concerns are just details of how the site is arranged,” Schroeder said. “[The construction] is meeting a long articulated need for conference space downtown … The concerns are minuscule [in comparison], and virtually every member still strongly supports it.”

After hammering out the requested changes, Hart Hotels will seek preliminary approval from the board, followed by final approval for consruction, Archarya said.

“The developers have met with a lot of the surrounding neighbors and are willing to work through all their concerns,” Jacquet said. “There are still things to work out, but all that seems to be on the way.”

Original Author: Kaitlyn Kwan