An attorney for developer Carpenter and Company convinced Braintree Planning Board members on Tuesday night to allow its new to maintain fewer parking spaces per room based on a more modern and nuanced interpretation of parking codes.
Members voted 5-0 to allow the hotel one parking space per room instead of 1.25 per room, based on Frank Marinelli's argument – bolstered by an engineer's study – that the scaled-down business hotel requires less parking. Overall, the complex on Forbes Road across from the will have 636 parking spaces for the hotel, retailers and restaurants.
Carpenter is still finalizing tenants that will join the existing T.G.I. Friday's, as well as Jared the Galleria of Jewelry and Starbucks, which will likely enter the complex as a standalone location. Vice President Peter Diana said on Tuesday that Starbucks is "very close" to committing, but would not comment further on the coffee shop nor other potential stores.
The developer has invested $25 million in the hotel and shopping complex, Marinelli said. Much of that has been put into remodeling the former Sheraton Hotel, demolishing a significant portion of the structure, including the ballroom area, and reducing the room total from 374 to 204.
With that room count and meeting space considerations, the hotel will now maintain 216 spaces. The modification approved by the board is the "last element" of turning an "archaic hotel" into a business hotel, Marinelli said.
"We're just trying to bring the nature of this hotel into compliance with the parking ratio," he said.
The retail shops will have five spaces per thousand square feet and the restaurants one space per 3.5 seats.
Braintree's zoning bylaws do not distinguish between types of hotels, Marinelli said, meaning that it mandates the same parking ratio for a full-service hotel with restaurants and more meeting space like the Sheraton as it does a hotel like the Hyatt Place, where more travelers arriving on business tend to carpool.
"We are in complete agreement with the applicant," Planning and Community Development Director Christine Stickney said.
There was some pushback, though, from members Darryl Mikami and James Eng, who argued that at full capacity the hotel and complex could have problems with parking. A stipulation was attached that the developer return to the Planning Board if any issues arise.
"We're not spending $25 million to develop a site that's going to have problems," Marinelli said. "The problem is the Granite Street corridor..."