SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 3, 2012

Cummings Properties halts hotel plan

BY PAUL LEIGHTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — Cummings Properties has suspended its plan to build a six-story hotel at the Cummings Center, despite the fact that it has nearly finished the foundation.

In its weekly email to clients, the company said yesterday that it has been unable to find a hotel industry partner to develop and operate a hotel.

"This lack of a partner, combined with a recently completed unfavorable market study, led us to open discussions with the city regarding what type of development it would prefer to see at this site," the email said.

Mayor Bill Scanlon said he has spoken with Cummings officials, but it is unclear what type of building will eventually be built.

"They've talked about a variety of things, and we've told them that the community might or might not be receptive to certain things," Scanlon said. "We haven't taken it any further than that."

Cummings Properties first received permission from the city in 2004 to build a 140-room hotel on the Cummings Center campus at the corner of Elliott and McKay streets. But the company has delayed the project due to the economy and its inability to find a partner in the hotel industry.

Last year it began building the foundation for the hotel, with plans to use some of the building for residential units. But Steve Drohosky, the Cummings Center's general manager, said a recent market study conducted by the company showed there was not enough demand to support a hotel of that size at the current time.

Drohosky, however, did not rule out that a hotel will eventually be built.

"We tend to never say never," he said.

Cummings Properites said it plans to complete the foundation this month, then suspend construction until 2013. The final use of the building, it said, "is not yet known."

Scanlon said the area is zoned for commercial/industrial buildings. The City Council would have to vote for a zoning change for Cummings to build apartments or condominiums, he said.

Scanlon said he would be "reluctant" to see a residential building at the site.

"I'd rather have it be commercial/industrial or the hotel that they've got approval for," he said.

Beverly currently has two hotels, the 92-room Wylie Inn at Endicott College and the 23-room Beverly Garden Suites on Lakeview Avenue in North Beverly.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.