PEABODY — The city believes a plan to establish a “boutique hotel” and upscale restaurant in Peabody Square’s O’Shea Building will be a dramatic step toward the revitalization of the downtown.
Bandar Development has announced its intention to establish the restaurant on the ground floor, with rooms and conference centers on the upper floors. The striking facade of the historic structure, at the corner of Main and Foster streets, would remain.
“That building represents the cornerstone of our downtown,” Mayor Ted Bettencourt said. The restaurant might be more important than the hotel in terms of attracting people downtown, he added.
“It’s a project we’ve been working on for a number of months,” the mayor said. “There is still work to be done, in terms of financing, in terms of parking. We hope to have all that wrapped up soon.”
Bettencourt expects to see construction begin by summer or fall.
The city earlier helped Bandar finance the $1 million purchase of the property with a $250,000 loan, raised through a federal Urban Development Action Grant. The Middleton-based company made the purchase after a study revealed that 25,000 vehicles a day pass through the square.
“The hope is to get some of those cars to stop,” Bettencourt said.
Potential customers for the hotel could come from downtown businesses, from offices in Centennial Park, from tourists seeking a less-hurried location than downtown Salem and from parents or potential students visiting nearby colleges like Salem State University.
“Bandar is very optimistic that the hotel can be successful,” the mayor said.
The term “boutique hotel” references establishments that offer interiors with more individual character than is seen in large chain hotels with their scores of virtually identical rooms. Bettencourt links the concept to Salem’s Hawthorne Hotel. It’s all part of an updated master plan for downtown Peabody redevelopment that the mayor is expected to release in January. Parking is one of the concerns addressed.