By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times Staff Writer
NEW BEDFORD — The developer planning a 106-room hotel on the city’s waterfront announced Tuesday that Marriott International Inc. has approved a franchise for a Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott at the site.
Officials said the Marriott endorsement of the project marked an important hurdle cleared as the developer and city move ahead with the first downtown hotel in decades along with the first major downtown building project in more than 10 years.
Marriott is a leading international lodging company with more than 3,000 properties in the United States and 66 other countries. It franchises hotels under the Marriott, JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Residence Inn, Courtyard, TownePlace Suites, Fairfield Inn, SpringHill Suites and Bulgari brand names.
The hotel is being built by Lafrance Hospitality, the Westport-based company headed by the Lafrance family known for a number of SouthCoast properties, including White’s of Westport and the Hampton Inns located in Westport and Fairhaven.
Richard Lafrance, company president, in a jointly prepared statement, praised city officials for their support of the project and said the support “has enabled the project to progress in a timely fashion.”
Hotel plans call for a five-story building on a site just off Homer’s Wharf and abutting MacArthur Drive and the JFK Memorial Highway at the foot of Walnut Street. Unofficial estimates of the cost of the project are $20 million. The current plan is for 78 standard rooms and 28 suites.
Lafrance Hospitality plans to begin construction this summer and complete the project by next summer.
City Council President Jane L. Gonsalves said, “I see the presence of a hotel as a key piece of the economic revitalization of this area.” She said the granting of the franchise license indicates forward progress and that she is pleased.
Mayor Scott W. Lang said the hotel project is moving ahead “step by step.”
“It will take real teamwork at all levels … to make this important project a reality for our city,” Mayor Lang said. He predicted continued support from his administration and the City Council.
Matthew A. Morrissey of the New Bedford Economic Development Council said the Marriott award of a franchise for the hotel was a “huge hurdle” cleared. He said while there is still much work to be done, the project is moving ahead on schedule.
Contact Joe Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org
May 07, 2008
Source URL: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080507/NEWS/805070318
By Joe Cohen