Jul 022014

New Groton Inn Front Elevation

New Groton Inn Front Elevation

The new Groton Inn project cleared its last major permitting hurdle Thursday June 27 when the Groton Planning Board signed off on the $15M project, giving its site plan, three special permits, and several waivers a unanimous thumbs up.

“It’s going to be beautiful,” Planning Board member Carolyn Perkins said after the vote.

Two meetings with the Historic Districts Commission still lie ahead, on July 1 and 10, but developer Chris Ferris said he those deal with architectural details and that he expects approval from the HDC.

[Update]The Historic Districts Commission awarded the project its certificate of appropriateness at a meeting Tuesday, July 1. The certificate formally approves the design package for the inn complex, and was the last regulatory hurdle developers had to clear before closing the sale and breaking ground on the new development.

The closing to transfer ownership of the 8.5 acre property from George Pergantis to 128 Main Street LLC is set for July 15, he said. His firm has already hired a general contractor and construction will begin after closing. Tenants in two apartment buildings on the 128 Main Street property have already been notified about the pending change in ownership and told that they will have to move soon, he said.

The exterior of the new inn will resemble the old Groton Inn’s before it was destroyed by fire in August 2011, and be built in the same location. The interior will have 29 state-of-the-art rooms and a gastro pub, plus room for functions and the complex’s offices. A building just behind the new inn will look like a stable and house nine guest suites. Across a parking lot to the south, a “carriage house” style building will replace the current concrete block garage. It will house a caretaker’s apartment, an outdoor sports equipment rental shop, and a function room with outdoor patio for groups of 20-30 people. Six town house apartments will be constructed in a three-building cluster near the carriage house — one free standing, a duplex, and a triplex.

Ferris said that everything will be under construction at the same time.

“There’s only one stage. It’s all going to come up out of the ground at the same time. Every general contractor we talked to, and the one we hired, said ‘Twelve months, no problem, we’ll have you in,’ he said.

Ferris hopes for a soft opening of the inn on September 1, 2015. He said the complex will create about 30 full time and 20-30 part time jobs.

It took less than 10 months to secure all town permits and approvals, counting from last September when the project concept plan was endorsed by Town Meeting. The town doesn’t keep records of how long permitting takes, but Town Planner Michelle Collette agreed with Ferris that the process was very quick and efficient. She added that officially, “The clock on the permitting process really started on April 22, 2014 when the applications were submitted to the Planning Board, Conservation Commission, and Historic Districts Commission.”

“When this project came in, when all big projects come in, we tried to do a coordinated permitting approach. A lot of that depends upon the applicant submitting everything at the same time. If the applicant is on board … and has all their ducks in a row and all their engineering work and architectural work done and they submit it all at the same time, we can plow through the process pretty efficiently and that’s what we did for the Groton Inn,” she said.

The most trouble free projects end up being a collaboration between the town and the applicant because each is dependent on the other to move the project forward, Collette and Ferris said.

“We do what we can do at our end, but a lot of it is the responsibility of the applicant to give you the necessary documents that are complete and well done and address all the issues, but also their ability to turn things around and provide the required documents — the traffic studies, the elevations, civil engineering, and so on and so forth. That’s what they did and that’s what helped them through the process so efficiently — they’re a great applicant to work with,” Collette said.