Convention center picks hotel operator

Rent projections disappointing

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

STARWOOD HOTELS has beat out Hyatt in the bidding for a two-hotel development across the street from the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, giving the BCEC access to hotel rooms for convention guests.

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority board voted unanimously Thursday morning to authorize Executive Director Jim Rooney to enter negotiations with Starwood’s developer CV Properties.

Development of an Aloft hotel and an Element extended-stay hotel would mark the first time that a mid-priced hotel has made an agreement to reserve blocks of rooms, which in this case would go to the BCEC, according to Howard Davis, director of capital projects.

“This room block agreement is, for some people, a showstopper,” Howard told the board Thursday. He said it was “without precedent.”

For the BCEC, the hotel development is part of the plan to eventually substantially expand the convention hall in the South Boston Seaport, an expensive proposition but one that supporters say is necessary to keep Boston among the most competitive cities for convention business.

Baltimore-based Starwood, which runs the Westin, Sheraton and W luxury hotels, has 1,089 properties and 322,300 rooms around the world, according to its website.

The developer, CV Properties, has selected Suffolk Construction as its contractor and Elkus Manfredi as its architect.

The only other developer vying for the bid, Carpenter & Co., which was partnered with Hyatt and hotel developer Highgate, was resistant to many of the terms the MCCA required, including the construction schedule and the room-block agreement, Davis said.

“They took exception to many of the key terms,” Davis told the board.

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Andy Metzger

Reporter, CommonWealth magazine

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

Neither developer offered rent that met MCCA’s hopes. A 10-year projection that included the assumption the hotel is sold in the tenth year showed Hyatt’s proposal generating $1.6 million and Starwood’s proposal generating $3.4 million.

“At the end of the day this is less rent than we would have liked,” Davis said.

Paul Sacco, a board member who is CEO of the Mass. Lodging Association, abstained from the vote.