New Holiday Inn on Broadway Shows Strong Hotel Market

New Holiday Inn on Broadway Shows Strong Hotel Market

The new Holiday Inn on  upper Broadway, next to Mill Creek, is showing great occupancy rates and yet another

Sales Manager Joe Fiorello, General Manager Luziane Cavalcanti and Front Desk Clerk Carlota Dalomba gather at the front desk of the new Holiday Inn on Mill Creek. The new property opened about four months ago, but will have its official grand opening next week. It represents the fifth property for the Colwen Management
company in Chelsea.

strong property in the Chelsea-based Colwen Management group of hotels.

“We’re almost at 100 percent full occupancy for October,” said Joe Fiorello, director of sales for Colwen. “We’re really excited about that.”

The property officially opened on July 25.

The new, 124-room, full-service hotel gives Colwen its fourth property in Chelsea, with more than 500 rooms added since their first property – the Residence Inn – came online a few years back.

The new Holiday Inn will celebrate a blockbuster grand opening on Nov. 8.

Colwen now has the Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Holiday Inn and Homewood Suites in Chelsea. That adds to their larger portfolio of properties across Greater Boston, including the new AC Hotel in the South End of Boston and the newer property that opened last week at Assembly Row.

The new property continues the tradition of great design on the properties, with interesting lighting and lots of natural light.

The foyer includes a great sitting area, with a fireplace as well.

Since it is a full-service property, Fiorello said the free breakfast option isn’t available. Instead, they have a European-inspired breakfast buffet and a al carte items as well. They also have a full restaurant and bar on the property, which Fiorello said would likely play well to local residents of Chelsea and Revere. They will be serving popular items like steaks, lobster rolls, salmon and other dishes.

“We are under the umbrella of IHG, but we are owned and operated by Colwen Hotels,” he said. “IHG wants to use this property as a prototype hotel. When other owners come into town, they said they want to bring them here to show them the property as an example for all future builds. Colwen is very good at managing, designing and operating.”

While there are no suites like in the other properties, the rooms are large and most try to focus on a view of the marsh or the City. Each room has smart TVs and luxury bath products as well. The building is an LEED certified property.

For functions, they do have a space that is available for small functions or meetings. It holds about 60-80 people and can be divided in half. It’s called the Mill Creek Ballroom.

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Chelsea Rotary Installation Event Set for June 21

Chelsea Rotary Installation Event Set for June 21

The Chelsea Rotary Club will hold its 91st Annual Installation of Officers at 6 p.m. at the Homewood Suites Event Center on Thursday June 21.  Past President Allan Alpert will be Master of Ceremonies for the evening celebrating Rotary’s 2018-19 Theme, “Be The Inspiration.” Installed officers will be Maureen Foley of Colwen Hotels as President, Peter Zaksheski of Frank A. Welsh & Sons Funeral Services as President-Elect, Todd Taylor of KSM Staffing as Vice President, Past President D. Bruce Mauch of Chelsea Clock as Secretary, Frank Kowalski, Retired as Sergeant-at-Arms and Past President Joe Vinard of Chelsea Bank a division of East Cambridge Savings Bank as Treasurer. Todd Taylor will be honored as Chelsea Rotarian of the Year. The Club will also be awarding Paul Harris Fellowships, one of Rotary International’s highest honors to LediaKoco, Administrative Assistant to Chelsea City Council and to seven Chelsea Rotarians; Robert Alconada, Paula Barton, Daniel Flores, Susan Gallant, Arthur Michaud, Jackie Moore and Joseph Panetta.   Outgoing President David M. Mindlin, Esq. of Kraft and Hall will be thanked for his past year of dedicated service to the Rotary Club of Chelsea.

Everyone is invited to attend this Chelsea Rotary event honoring many outstanding business people in our community.  If you would like to attend, please contact Maureen Foley at mfoley@colwenhotels.conm or call 781-964-6576 for tickets.

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Bicycle Laundry Looking to Locate on Willow Street

Bicycle Laundry Looking to Locate on Willow Street

A commercial laundry that uses bicycles to pick up and deliver linens is looking to locate in the commercial/industrial property on Willow and Congress Streets.

Wash Cycle Laundry, a company founded in Philadelphia that has delivered millions of pounds of laundry and pioneered the bicycle laundry, wants to locate its Boston area operations in Chelsea. They were before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on Tuesday night, and will go before the Planning Board later in the month. In April, the City changed the zoning regulations in the Willow Street area to allow them to consider the property.

Gabriel Mandujano, the founder of the company, said they are coming right now to service the hotels exclusively in Chelsea, and would be using a new, advanced style of tricycle to pick up and deliver laundry throughout the city.

“We leased a portion of the building and are concentrating our efforts on the hotel market,” he said. “Colwen Hotels signed an agreement to bring us to Chelsea. We’re going to be their laundry contractor. The idea is they have a lot of properties in Chelsea, but they have a large portfolio all over Boston too. This will bring those jobs to Chelsea.”

He said they hope to run two shifts seven days a week, and would employ a total of 75 people.

“We are a sustainable company,” he said. “We do  a lot of environmental and energy savings in the plant. We are founded in Philadelphia and pioneered bicycle delivery laundry. We delivered millions and millions of pounds of laundry in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. We are though practically sustainable and not religiously sustainable, so the chiefly concerned about safety.”

He said that would mean that they would deliver by bike in the Chelsea area, but use vans and trucks to get to Boston and other far off areas.

He said after they get their feet under them, if approved to come, they hoped to begin doing work for other businesses in Chelsea that have a need for a commercial laundry.

He said they would be using a special tricycle cargo bike in Chelsea that has been piloted by the UPS delivery company in Portland. He said they took a trip recently to Portland to test it out and liked what they saw.

“We’re fairly confident that would be the vehicle we would use if we come to Chelsea,” he said. “Philadelphia is completely flat, so we need something here with a little more power.”

He added they are a second chance company, and hope to partner with non-profits in the area to employ at-risk and court-involved residents who need a break. Many of their current employees have a history of homelessness or incarceration, he said.

“That’s one of the main reasons I founded the company,” he said.

If allowed to locate on Willow Street, Mandujano said they could have the build out done in about 30 days.

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Hotel Underway at Broadway Line

Hotel Underway at Broadway Line

By Seth Daniel

The elevator shaft and steel structure can be seen this summer going up on Chelsea’s next new hotel, a 124-room full service hotel at the Chelsea Line.

The elevator shaft and steel structure can be seen this summer going up on Chelsea’s next new hotel, a 124-room full service hotel at the Chelsea Line.

The Chelsea Broadway Hotel – not yet named officially – is making quick work of the vacant site next to the Walgreen’s on Broadway adjacent to the Chelsea/Revere line.

The hotel – another new hotel brought by Colwen and the XSS Group – is likely to be even better than the previous hotels, the last of which (Homewood Suites) just opened across from Chelsea High School. There are rumors that the Broadway hotel will include a restaurant that has water-side seating during the summer months. That, however, could not be confirmed.

The site overlooks the Mill Creek and marsh – an area that has been vastly improved and cleaned up in the last 10 years. The hotel property will also serve as a major connecting piece on the walkway that leads to the Chelsea Commons Park.

Already, the elevator shaft and steel structure are towering above Broadway as the building takes shape. Maureen Foley of Colwen Hotels said that the Broadway Hotel is a 124-room hotel that will open in late 2018.

She said anyone looking for job opportunities at the hotel or any of their other Chelsea hotels can log on to www.colwenhotels.com.

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Councillors OK Hotel Renovation Agreement

City Councillors unanimously approved a tax incremental financing (TIF) agreement with XSS Hotels that would help them enter into an ownership partnership with the Wyndham Hotel – a partnership that would be for the purpose of renovating the 15-year-old hotel.

The renovations are said to be just short of $10 million.

The Council voted 9-0, with two absent, to approve the recommendation by City Manager Tom Ambrosino for a five-year TIF.

XSS Hotels operates several hotels in Chelsea already, including the Residence Inn and TownPlace Suites. They would enter into a partnership with WEDGE Group of Texas, which currently owns the hotel.

“In a way, this is a landmark event because Wyndham was the first hotel here,” said Councillor Dan Cortell. “It’s the one we had to beg to give us a chance to build a hotel of this size…This is a full-circle event where the Wyndham is going to renovate to remain competitive. As our foundation hotel that was here when no other hotel was here, I support this.”

Councillor Giovanni Recupero said he supports the measure because it retains jobs.

“The jobs for the people there are going to be kept,” he said. “That’s the only reason why I vote fore it because it stays here and keep the people in their jobs. That’s very important.”

Said Councillor Calvin Brown, “It’s a good plan and a good move for the City of Chelsea.”

The plan would be for five years and would offer up to 60 percent relief in the first year from property taxes and personal property taxes. By the fifth year, it would trail down to 30 percent relief.

Ambrosino said the total new tax dollars to the City during the TIF would still be substantial, even with the discount. That figure was $243,307 in new taxes during the TIF as a result of the renovations.

The renovations would require a complete closure of the hotel between November and March.

In that time, Thomas wrote that current Wyndham employees would be offered employment at other area hotels in its network. Transportation would be provided to those employees if the new job is outside of Chelsea.

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Wyndham Hotel Owners Propose Partnership with Local Hotel Group

The XSS Hotel Group, which operates the Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites in Chelsea, has proposed to enter into the ownership of the Wyndham Hotel on Everett Avenue and completely renovate the 15-year-old facility – putting nearly $10 million into it for transformation into high-end accommodations.

“The principals of XSS are in the process of forming a joint venture with Texas-based WEDGE Group, owners of the Wyndham, in order to eliminate both an uncertain future and assure a positive trajectory for this pivotally located hotel,” wrote Christine Thomas of XSS. “This decision to join forces in this exciting opportunity makes sense to both parties…WEDGE Group also believes int eh future of the community and sees a partnership with XSS Hotels as good for both their real estate investment and their employees.”

Thomas unveiled the plan to the City last month in order to request a Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) plan. The plan would be for five years and would offer up to 60 percent relief in the first year from property taxes and personal property taxes. By the fifth year, it would trail down to 30 percent relief.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he was in favor of the modest tax reduction, saying it would still result in new tax dollars coming to the City even with the TIF in place.

“The new joint venture would continue to pay full real estate taxes on the existing base assessed value,” he said. “For this reason, notwithstanding the tax relief, this large investment by XSS will still result in new tax dollars to the City in every year of the TIF Agreement. The total new tax dollars to the City during the five-year TIF are estimated at $243,307…The proposed TIF terms are similar in many respects to other TIF Agreements approved by the City Council over the past decade.”

The TIF Agreement was presented to the City Council on Monday and will be discussed further at upcoming meetings.

If approved, Thomas said the company plans to invest $9.8 million into the hotel, beginning in November and concluding in March 2016.

“The appearance of the outside of the hotel will be modernized,” she wrote “The windows, mechanical systems, porte-cochere and bathrooms will be replaced as well as full interior upgrades to every area of the hotel. As part of the revitalization of the Wyndham, meeting space will be expanded and three separate dining options are planned with breakfast, lunch and dinner service available to guests and the public.”

The renovations would require a complete closure of the hotel between November and March.

In that time, Thomas wrote that current Wyndham employees would be offered employment at other area hotels in its network. Transportation would be provided to those employees if the new job is outside of Chelsea.

“We expect the proposed changes in hotel operation, which complement the physical improvements to the property, will cause no loss in the overall number of full-time or full-time equivalent jobs with an anticipated gradual increase in positions,” she wrote. “Our promoting-from-within philosophy combined with our strong regional growth will provide improved advancement potential to our Wyndham team members.”

Ambrosino said that without the partnership, upgrades and TIF, he worries that the property will sell to a less qualified hotel operator.

“I am concerned that if XSS does not obtain this tax benefit and is unable to proceed with this joint venture effort, the City might see a future decline in the Wyndham property or sale by WEDGE to another hotel developer of lesser quality,” he said.

The total contribution towards the property would be $7.4 million, with the remainder being attributed to the closure costs.

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Waterfront Development Plan to be Considered this Month

The ongoing process to begin considering development for part of the Chelsea Creek waterfront will be considered this month by the Economic Development Board and, likely brought to a vote, later this month.

Since earlier this spring, a local and state process has been underway to begin discussions about developing a portion of land on the waterfront from Willow Street to the Chelsea Street Bridge. The City has engaged since that time in an overall plan, and the state has also begun a longer process to remove the area from the Designated Port Area (DPA) district.

Planning Director John DePriest said the City is hoping to do a land swap.

Currently, the City owns 324 Marginal St. – a large swath of land across from the Creek that is now leased to Enterprise Rent-A-Car. The City hopes to make a land swap with a developer who wishes to build a large parking garage on the waterfront site – just next to the bridge where there is now a brick wall. The City hopes to be able to allow the developer to build the garage on the Marginal Street site off the water, get title to the waterfront parcel and open it up to hotel development and waterfront park access.

“We’re in the process of working up that plan now,” said DePriest. “We expect to hold an Economic Development Board meeting later this month to put the finishing touches on the plan and vote to endorse the plan…The plan is practical and shows how to achieve what we want. The end goal is a land swap to allow the City to gain access to a waterfront parcel. Our feeling is a parking garage on the waterfront restricts access to the water and the waterfront for a long time. It would be better on the other side and off the water.”

The Council would also have to endorse the plan, and a tentative date for the Economic Development Board is scheduled for July 23.

DePriest said a hotel developer has already expressed interest in obtaining a portion of that waterfront site to build another hotel. Word on the street is that the developer is Colwen Hotels, which has already built several hotels in Chelsea, but that could not yet be confirmed.

Another one acre site on the waterfront parcel, DePriest said, would be reserved for some sort of park or activation zone.

“We would really like residents to gain some sort of access to the waterfront, whether it’s a park or a building or something like that,” he said. “We don’t really have that access to the water now.”

On the state front, the DPA process is still ongoing and is separate from the City’s land swap plan.

The state is expected to issue a draft report on the DPA removal in October or November. That will result in a 30-day comment period, and then a Draft Final Report in December, with another 30-day comment period.

An overall Harbor Plan would likely come 12 to 18 months afterward.

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Towne Place Suites Set to Open in February

Towne Place Suites Set to Open in February

Maureen Foley (left) and Dakeya Christmas of Colwen Hotels in the comfortable and cozy lobby at the Chelsea Residence Inn this week. Both said that the expansion of hotels in Chelsea is all about the regions need for more rooms to meet the booming demand of conventions and international tourists. The company has two hotels in the works in Chelsea, with the Towne Place Suites on Marginal Street set to open in mid-February.

Maureen Foley (left) and Dakeya Christmas of Colwen Hotels in the comfortable and cozy lobby at the Chelsea Residence Inn this week. Both said that the expansion of hotels
in Chelsea is all about the regions need for more rooms to meet the booming demand of conventions and international
tourists. The company has two hotels in the works in Chelsea, with the Towne Place Suites on Marginal Street set to open in mid-February.

Some 14 years ago when Colwen Hotels was first considering putting a hotel in Chelsea, it was all about proximity to the airport.

Now, with the group preparing to open its second hotel – the Towne Place Suites on Marginal Street – on Feb. 16 or 17 and having two more Chelsea hotels in the works, the focus has little to nothing to do with the airport.

“The idea originally started as a hotel for the airport because of the airlines,” said Maureen Foley of Colwen. “As it happened, you had the growth at the Boston Convention Center and international tourism really took off and it all created the perfect storm for us.”

In fact, the focus on Chelsea by Colwen has everything to do nowadays with the hot commodity of the Boston area for conventions and international travel and Chelsea’s close proximity to the engine of the region’s booming economy.

“I think economically people are seeing the growth in Boston and seeing that it’s a booming city and the opportunities are there,” said Foley. “They need more hotel rooms and the time is right economically. We do play into the proximity of Chelsea all the time. We are very close to Boston and in a lot of cases we’re closer to Boston than many parts of Boston. However, having the background on what’s going on in the Boston area really changes how you view this as a whole. It’s not just about another hotel in Chelsea. Boston and the entire area are really booming for conventions and tourism.”

As proof of that, according to Smith Travel Research, Boston’s hotel occupancy rates (which include Chelsea) ranked 7th in the top 25 market areas in 2013. That was behind prime places like New York, Hawaii, Miami Beach, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The occupancy rate for 2013 was around 73 percent.

This year, the 2015 projections for occupancy are way up.

The Pinnacle Group predicts that Boston occupancy rates will be at 80 percent this year, which is up 7 percent from 2013. Meanwhile, the average room cost per night is predicted to be $255.94. Those numbers would be some of the best occupancy rates and room rates for just about any market in the United States.

Meanwhile, the Boston Convention Center in South Boston’s Seaport District is driving the growth in hotels tremendously and many guests in Chelsea’s hotels look to be those heading to the Seaport District.

Foley said she believes that a lot of hotel spillover from the Seaport District does end up in Chelsea, and that will really be true once the Silver Line is completed from the Seaport to the Mystic Mall.

“That will be an absolute game changer,” she said.

As it is now, Boston is 39th on the list of having the most International meetings in a market – meetings that take place at the Boston Convention Center or the Hynes Convention Center.

While 39th sounds like an “iffy” proposition, that worldwide number is higher than Washington, D.C. (43rd), New York City (64th) and Chicago (65th).

The number is also tempered by the fact that the Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau cannot book some of the largest conventions due to the fact that the Greater Boston area doesn’t have enough hotel rooms to handle such things.

Therein lays the drive behind the expansion of hotels in Chelsea – in places like Marginal Street and the upper end of Broadway where one would have never thought a hotel would land.

Foley said it probably doesn’t make sense to the naked eye, but once one understands the business model and the region’s needs that lie behind such decisions, it makes far more sense.

“The Convention and Visitors Bureau cannot host some of the largest conventions because we don’t have enough rooms,” she said. “We can really compete as a convention city if we build more hotel rooms.”

That’s the model for so many hotel companies like Colwen and the Wyndham for expansion.

Colwen will open its Homewood Suites by Hilton across from Chelsea High School in November.

In Cambridge, near the Somerville line, they are set to open a Fairfield Inn & Suites later this year.

The all new Marriott brand, the AC Hotel, is currently under construction by Colwen at Station’s Landing in Medford. Meanwhile, Colwen is planning an Autograph by Marriott hotel for Somerville’s Assembly Row in the near future.

Another Colwen AC Hotel with 200 rooms has been approved for the Ink Block development area in Boston’s South End where the Boston Herald used to operate.

All of the hotels from Colwen are geared to a particular market, though. That market is the Millennial Generation that, demographically speaking, shuns the ritzy confines of a luxury hotel and embraces smaller, less expensive hotels with solid amenities and nice, open lobby/social spaces.

“The Millennials want a less expensive place to stay with limited services and not so much a luxury hotel,” she said. “We think that we’ll see a lot of change towards that. They want their free Wi-Fi. They want to be in a fun area and they want to sit in lobbies and socialize. That’s exactly what we offer.”

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