Aug 022013

Groton Inn Postcard

The First Groton Inn — Will There Be a Second?

Two years after the 333-year old Groton Inn was destroyed by fire, a group of investors and developers have come forward with a plan to revitalize the gateway to Groton center. The plan includes a new Groton Inn containing a “gastropub” and 25 luxury suites in a building closely modeled after the original Inn.

Further back on the lot, where two 1950s era apartment buildings and the Inn’s 1913 garage now stand, would be 8-10 free-standing colonial style condominium buildings facing Gibbet Hill. They would be similar in concept to the homes planned for Boynton Meadows at 134 Main Street, spokesmen for the developers say.

Groton resident John Amaral, a partner in Omni Properties, has been the project’s feet on the ground in Groton. He helped put together a deal with current owner George Pergantis and Christopher Ferris and his 128 Main Street LLC group, who would build, own, and operate the complex.

“I think it’s just amazing that we have this very talented group of individuals that has now put the property under contract. As a resident of Groton — we moved here in ’98 — I think every resident felt such a deep loss when the Inn burned down, it was truly like losing a member of your family. George has been part of the history of Groton for many many years. That property and the Inn were truly the gateway to the center of town. We’re looking at this as an opportunity for the next 100 or 300 years to have a new gateway to the center of town. And I can’t think of a better development for that property, with its history, than to be able to end up with a beautiful building with what will have all the amenities that people look for today. Yet still with all the character that fits into the center of town,” Amaral said.

The corporation formed for the project, 128 Main Stree LLC, has a newly-signed purchase and sale agreement with owner George Pergantis that gives them 12-15 months to secure Town Meeting approval for their concept and to obtain required permits and approvals. Christopher Ferris, managing partner of the corporation, has a background in club, inn, and restaurant management — he currently manages the Eastern Point Yacht Club on Gloucester’s outer harbor: “… a truly unique location with a charming clubhouse, dining facilities and accommodations, as well as function and special event capabilities,” according to its web site.

The new Groton Inn will have a similar up-market atmosphere, Ferris said, with a unique Groton spin: “The elevations are going to be very, very similar to the old inn. The interiors though, are going to be drastically improved. Gastro pub, localvore style — we’re going to be sourcing things with local farms, with Gibbet Hill, with the Herb Lyceum down the road, and other places like that. We’re going to try to keep obtaining foods and things within 100 miles. We’ll have craft beers and craft wines too.”

Ferris had a brief initial exploratory meeting with Town Manager Mark Haddad more than a year ago, he said. And the deal began to come together. Over the year, Groton resident John Amaral, of Omni Development, signed up as a local liaison. Ferris knew several potential investors, and unnamed people with connections to Groton School came on board. An initial letter of intent with Pergantis was signed in June; the purchase and sale was signed in the third week of July. Thursday afternoon, August 1, Amaral, Ferris, and other principles were to meet with Haddad a second time. Selectmen were not informed of the meeting.

One of the items of discussion was a strategy or procedure to win community approval and obtain required permits before the P&S agreement expires.

“We have a lot of permitting to go through. Because we’re going to be larger than 10,000 square feet, it has to go to the Town Meeting for a (Concept Plan approval) vote because we’re seeking a zoning variance. And then we have permitting and what not — it’s all contingent on permitting and favorable business conditions. Right now we are getting ready to go to Town Meeting, September 29, and plan on making a presentation there to the meeting, the selectmen, the town manager, with renditions of a master plan, elevations, and an overall concept,” Ferris said.

An earlier briefing session with the Board of Selectmen and possibly other town boards was a possibility, Ferris and Emerald said.

“Omni Properties has been hand-walking us through this, and coaching us on the permitting process. They’ve been involved from the word ‘go,'” Ferris said.

Amaral explained that he and his company will have a long-term role, “They have a very capable team among their principles. We’ll continue to work with them through the permitting process. I think what we add is a knowledge of the local market and certainly of the town boards. But this group is very, very talented. We’ll help them wherever they need us to help them, but the focus should be on their group because they come to the table with a great deal of talent and expertise.”

Amaral and Omni are also involved in Peter Myette’s proposal to construct a medical office building on the site of Myette’s equipment company at 120 Boston Road. They have been instrumental in winning approval of that concept plan at the spring town meeting and in presentations related to site preparation — tree trimming to improve line of sight along route 119 from Myette’s property.