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Hotel proposed for Village Hill in Northampton

Representatives from a pair of development firms, Turnstone Property Inc., of Cohasset, and Saltaire Properties Inc., of Gloucester, presented a snapshot of their proposal to the Historical Commission this week.

Robert Thomas, of Turnstone, and Diedre Savage, of Saltaire, asked the commission for a letter of support to be included in their application for state historic tax credits to renovate the nearly 80-year-old building.

The commission maintains the proposed reuse would be a good fit for redevelopment of the former state hospital property, said Sarah LaValley, conservation, preservation and land use planner for the city.

“They thought it was a great project,” she said.

Thomas declined to discuss the project in detail Wednesday, saying the plan is still in the negotiation phase with MassDevelopment, the quasi-public agency overseeing Village Hill Northampton. He pointed out that the commission simply agreed to support the tax credit application, not the project itself.

The $6 million project involves converting the three-story structure — the largest remaining undeveloped building on the former state hospital grounds — into a hotel that recognizes the “architectural and historical significance” of the building.

The rectangular building includes signature pillars and is located near the entrance to the west of Village Hill Road.

In addition to converting the building’s three floors into hotel rooms, plans show a meeting room on the main floor, and several amenities in the basement. These include an exercise room, a breakfast room and bar, a “screening room,” and space for a kitchen, offices and storage.

“Once completed, the hotel will serve as a beacon at the entrance to Village Hill, highlighting the successful redevelopment of the campus and complementing the residential, commercial and assisted living uses on site,” the developers said in their application that must be filed with the state by Jan. 15.

The rectangular-shaped male attendants building was the fourth and last dormitory for hospital staff to be constructed near the main hospital in a 15-year period between 1918 and 1933, according to historical records. The building included single rooms for 100 attendants. It also featured a large reception room on each floor, a large smoking room and a card room in the basement.

The hotel proposal comes on the heels of several other commercial projects in the works for the northern section of the former state hospital grounds. Among those are a new 83-unit assisted-living facility and a two-story office building.

Boston-based Grantham Group is developing the 83-unit assisted-living facility on a 2.5-acre site south of Moser Street, between Musante Drive and Village Hill Road. The three-story, 58,000-square-foot building will be called Christopher Heights.

The office building at the entrance to the north campus is being developed by Wright Builders for the Opal Real Estate Group. Opal will lease most of the building to Fazzi Associates, a national home care consulting firm based in Northampton.

Thomas and Savage bring significant experience to the hotel project. They have been involved in a number of historically significant projects over the last two decades, and both have graduate degrees in historic preservation.

Savage has developed more than 200 affordable and market-rate residential units in Boston and Cambridge, among other projects. Work by Thomas has included several Manhattan loft conversion projects and restoration of many historic buildings and monuments including Grand Central Terminal in New York City, the Annapolis Naval Academy Chapel and the Minnesota state capitol.

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