Proposal calls for a 70-80-room hotel near North Quabbin Commons in Athol

Supriya Kelkar (center), planner and urban designer with Innes Associates, discusses the draft RFP for a proposed hotel with the Economic Development & Industrial Corporation on Wednesday. Kelkar is flanked by EDIC recording secretary Amanda Carey and Athol Planning & Development Director Eric Smith.

Supriya Kelkar (center), planner and urban designer with Innes Associates, discusses the draft RFP for a proposed hotel with the Economic Development & Industrial Corporation on Wednesday. Kelkar is flanked by EDIC recording secretary Amanda Carey and Athol Planning & Development Director Eric Smith. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

Ben Murphy (center), vice president of real estate for MassDevelopment, speaks with the Economic Development & Industrical Corporation to review an updated market study from Pinnacle Advisory Group relative to a proposed hotel in Athol.

Ben Murphy (center), vice president of real estate for MassDevelopment, speaks with the Economic Development & Industrical Corporation to review an updated market study from Pinnacle Advisory Group relative to a proposed hotel in Athol. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

By GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 05-12-2024 5:00 PM

ATHOL – Wednesday evening, Supriya Kelkar, planner for the consulting firm of Innes Associates Ltd., presented the Economic Development & Industrial Corporation with a final draft of the Request for Proposal to find a company interested in developing a hotel in Athol.

The facility would be located on an EDIC-owned parcel near exit 77 off Route 2 and adjacent to the North Quabbin Commons.

According to the draft RFP, the EDIC “is seeking to develop the parcel to address the town’s identified need for a mid-scale, nationally-branded, 70-80 guest room hotel and event space with ample parking…The EDIC would prefer 100 keys (rooms) and an event space that can accommodate up to 300 people, with four to five rooms available as smaller breakout rooms.”

Companies responding to the RFP are being asked to, among other things, establish a facility that would “encourage interaction between the residents of Athol, neighboring towns, tourists and visitors, and the site.”

The hotel must be compatible with the site and surrounding area and the community’s values regarding sustainable construction and site design, the RFP stated.

The draft RFP states that an event space which can accommodate 100-200 people and provides three to four breakout rooms would be “advantageous.” However, corporation members would prefer to see a proposal which includes an event space capable of holding 200-300 people and provides four to five rooms that can be rented separately or with the event space.

The EDIC was also presented with an updated version of a market study completed by Pinnacle Advisory Group in 2019, which concluded that a hotel at the proposed location is indeed feasible. The study was presented by Ben Murphy, vice president for real estate with MassDevelopment, which has been working with the town on the hotel project. The findings of this latest report, Pinnacle said, “are consistent with the original report.”

“We believe a nationally branded, mid-scale hotel would be appropriate for the project,” the report stated.

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Recommendations for the facility include 80 guest rooms, a mid-scale hotel property (such as Fairfield Inn), complimentary breakfasts and a sundry shop. Pinnacle also recommends a meeting space of approximately 1,500 square feet, large enough to host approximately 100 people.

EDIC member Mark Wright spoke of the proposed site of the event space, noting that 1,500 square feet would be large enough to accommodate 300 people. He added that there are already several venues in the area with event space that can accommodate 100 people and that the new facility should offer something on a larger scale.

Corporation members were urged to send any concerns to Planning and Development Director Eric Smith so that they can be addressed in the final version of the RFP, which will be presented to the EDIC at its meeting in June. Once the RFP is finalized, the EDIC will be presented with a list of publications and web sites where it can be advertised.

One item that still needs to be worked on is the configuration of the access road which will run from the area of the Dollar Tree to the hotel site. Negotiations with the owner of the property occupied by Dollar Tree are ongoing regarding a right-of-way for the access road, according to EDIC Chair Keith McGuirk.

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com.