BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — A city board last night approved the demolition of the Dodge Street Bar & Grill, a once-popular nightspot that has been closed for more than a year.
The Salem Redevelopment Authority unanimously granted a request to demolish the 7 Dodge St. building on condition that the developer, RCG of Somerville, give strong indications of its plans to develop that site.
“We wouldn’t want to see it become a parking lot in the future or a vacant lot,” said City Planner Lynn Duncan.
RCG said it intends to build a three-story structure with retail on the first floor and two floors of apartments. It agreed to submit a design before it completes a large development next door.
“We have been talking to some people” interested in the (Dodge Street Bar) building, said Alex Steinbergh, a principal of RCG.
David Steinbergh, another company official, said they want to clear the lot so they can use it for staging and parking during the construction of a $45 million development on Dodge and Washington streets that will include a 100-room hotel.
RCG has been in talks with the Maine Course Hospitality Group, which owns and operates 13 hotels in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
The SRA also approved the demolition of several other buildings along upper Washington Street and Dodge Street Court that were home to a laundromat and a former billiard parlor.
RCG plans to use that 1-acre site plus a section of a parking lot it is in the process of acquiring from the city to erect a five- or six-story building that, in addition to the hotel, will have retail stores, apartments and a 275-space parking garage.
The demolition plans now move to the Salem Historical Commission, which will consider a request to waive the city’s six-month demolition delay ordinance that applies to buildings 50 years and older. That hearing is set for next week.
The SRA also approved a schematic design for the hotel project, which now goes to the city’s Design Review Board.
The most prominent part of the new building will be the hotel, which will be five stories high and anchor the development at the corner of Dodge and Washington streets. The parking will be on three levels, mostly in the interior of the development. Stores will be on the first and second floors, and apartments above.
Alex Steinbergh said they hope to make an announcement next week about a major tenant that has committed to the hotel project. He declined to reveal any names.
He also said there is a “lot of interest” in the ground floor of the future building that will replace Dodge Street Bar & Grill.
If the demolition requests are approved, the Dodge Street Bar lot will be vacant for about two years during construction, RCG officials said.
Dodge Street Bar & Grill, once known for its live music, fell on hard times in recent years. An RCG official said they tried to lease the spot but had no takers.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.