HADLEY — A three-story, 40,500-square-foot office building that will replace the Howard Johnson Motel on Route 9 can go ahead.
The Planning Council on Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of Hampshire Hospitality Group’s plans to construct the red brick building close to the trunk road, with all parking behind the building. The decision for the project at 401 Russell Street is pending approvals from other councils and committees, and the necessary permits from City Hall.
But when the project kicks off and demolition of the hotel which opened in 1966 and expanded in the early 1990s will depend on finding a tenant for the space, which is not imminent. , said Hampshire Hospitality Chairman J. Curtis Shumway.
“We have to find a tenant first,” Shumway said. “Don’t try to watch the paint dry. It’s a difficult environment right now. »
The developer may also need to return to the planning board if changes are made to the landscaping, exterior colors and rooflines presented to the board, and when signs for a tenant are unveiled.
The new building has been characterized as being in the style of developments on Atwood Drive in Northampton, prompting council member Michael Sarsynski to ask if any of the tenants in these buildings would like to come to Hadley.
“Kick someone out of Atwood and I know someone who would take up space there,” Sarsynski said.
Board members applauded Mike Gagnon, Principal Civil Engineer with SLR Consultants of Springfield, for his work presenting the plans for the project.
Planners also received a second presentation on a drive-thru café planned for a triangular plot at 13 Russell St., near the Coolidge Bridge, and bounded by Route 9 and Bay Road. New plans presented by Jeff Squire, a director of Berkshire Design Group, have the Bay Road entrance and exit, rather than a Route 9 entrance. The store would be inside a 510ft building squares, with storage on a second floor, but all customers would be served at the drive-thru.
A grass paving unit resembling grass would run over one of the entrances to Route 9, to be used only to aid emergency vehicle access, not as an entrance or exit for the others.
Sarsynski said he was concerned about the speed of vehicles turning onto Bay Road, then stopping abruptly to turn toward the new business.
“We don’t know how fast cars can slow down when they come off the bridge,” Sarsynski said.
“Although it’s better than Route 9,” said board member Mark Dunn.
Squire said the idea was to reuse and clean up the property which had been largely vacant since a gas station closed several years ago.
“One of the big constraints and challenges of the site is trying to get some value out of it,” Squire said.
“Sometimes, unfortunately, we make bad investments,” Sarsynski replied.
Fire Chief Mike Spanknebel said while the company only expects eastbound traffic to be able to use the store, he would like assurances that those heading westbound of Northampton will not attempt to turn left.
“We have a pretty serious problem with people turning left into Cross Path from Highway 9, even though there is no left turn there,” Spanknebel said.
Dunn said those customers may have to cross the bridge and use the Damon Road roundabout to return to access Bay Road.
Squire will return at the Oct. 18 meeting to discuss the need to make a $10,000 payment to use the City’s Development Rights Transfer Bylaw to obtain less parking than required under the City’s zoning. city, as well as to regulate the fire ways on the property and the stairs on the building.
Scott Merzbach can be contacted at [email protected]