SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 4, 2014

Salem Waterfront Hotel to expand

Plans 32 hotel rooms, 14 apartments, waterfront restaurant

BY TOM DALTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — SALEM — The owners of the Salem Waterfront Hotel have filed plans to build a second phase of the Pickering Wharf development.

Plans were filed last week for a $12 million project that would include a six-story building along the South River with 32 hotel rooms, 14 residences, a ballroom and conference space, a restaurant with outdoor dining, and a locker room and showers for marina guests.

An elevated glass walkway would connect the new building to the 86-room Salem Waterfront Hotel, which opened in 2004.

With this addition, the hotel developers said they will be able to keep more tourism business in the city and compete with Boston for small conventions and conferences.

“At the end of the day, Salem is a destination and we’d love to be able to steal some of that business that goes to Boston,” said Michael Rockett, a principal of Salem Waterfront Hotel.

This high-profile project, originally announced in 2007, was stalled in recent years due, in part, to a family legal battle. Denise Rockett, the mother of Michael and Richard Rockett, had secured a court attachment against the hotel and other property, according to a summary of court filings.

The legal problems have been resolved, Michael Rockett said yesterday. “The family has settled its differences and the litigation is gone,” he said. He referred other questions to his lawyer.

Last week, Rockett filed for a special permit with the Planning Board, which is expected to open a hearing on the hotel expansion at its Feb. 20 meeting. Other approvals are needed from the Conservation Commission and the state.

The owners of the Salem Waterfront Hotel are looking to expand at the same time that a Maine hotel group is planning to open an 85-room hotel in a development proposed at the corner of Dodge and Washington streets.

Rockett said he welcomes the company.

“I support the other project,” he said. “Anytime you can keep people in Salem, it’s good for Salem.”

With more hotel and function rooms, the city can attract larger groups, the developer’s attorney said.

“By adding ballroom and conference space, this will allow the city to play host to small to medium-sized conferences and conventions during winter months and shoulder seasons,” attorney Joe Correnti wrote in a letter to the Planning Board.

“The combination of existing and proposed hotel rooms throughout the city creates a new synergy in attracting groups and enhancing tourism year-round into our downtown.”

Rockett said he is in talks with a few restaurants but has not signed an agreement. This new restaurant would face the water with about 80 or 90 seats and outdoor dining.

Although the original hotel project marketed condominiums on the top floors, Rockett said they are looking at apartments on the top two floors for the expansion.

To make way for this development, a small building near the Congress Street bridge used for offices and marina space would be demolished.

There are no plans to add a parking garage or deck. Rockett said he has adequate parking on site, across the street on private land and at an additional location. The project, he noted, is across the street from a city garage.

If all goes well, Rockett said he hopes to begin construction late this year or early in 2015.

Tom Dalton can be reached at tdalton@salemnews.com.