PEABODY — Progress has its price.
In downtown Peabody, the plan to convert the O’Shea Building into a hotel will mean removing the three businesses on the ground floor, including barber David Serpa, who said he has been cutting hair at the site for 20 years.
“We have to leave,” he says. “We’re looking for a new location. ... And I’d like to find a spot here in the downtown area.”
“We’re trying to make this as painless and as sensitive as possible,” said developer Dan Bandar. “We’re looking at different options. They’re really wonderful tenants, and the last thing we want to do is hurt them.”
At the same time, he said, the interior of the building must be gutted and rebuilt.
“We’re working on it now, and we’re looking to start the process in the next few weeks.” The outside of the building is to remain as is, he added, and he doesn’t expect the work to interfere with downtown traffic. He anticipates the hotel to open 18 months from now.
The hotel is slated to include conference rooms and a restaurant on the ground floor. The hotel and restaurant are to be managed by New Hampshire-based Hay Creek Hotels, which runs several hotels, Bandar said. A decision on the type of restaurant to be installed is “still in the works,” said Bandar, who expects it will reflect the region.
“We are very, very motivated toward the city of Peabody,” Bandar said, referring to recent City Hall initiatives to revitalize the downtown. “You see what the mayor (Ted Bettencourt) is doing, and it’s exciting.”
Both the developer and the city are involved in a relocation program designed to help the tenants find other locations.
Bandar hopes to find some way to include Serpa’s shop as a hotel barbershop, but that becomes difficult in the short term with the building to be closed for more than a year.