Beyond Retail

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Is a hotel still part of the plans for Natick?

It seems like it's time for a new post on the blog.

Some of you might be wondering about the plans for a hotel on the Natick property.

Here's some history: when the project was first proposed back in 2002, General Growth Properties announced that there would be some form of "boutique hotel" as part of the expansion. Since that time, most non-retail discussion about the property has surrounded the subsequent announcement that condominums will be built. But don't fear: the hotel has not been forgotten.

In a recent conversation, Natick General Manager Frank Lazorchak confirmed that General Growth is still considering constructing a hotel on the Natick property. If built, the hotel would be located in the area marked "Future Development Pad" on some maps; to the everyday person, the land is located roughly in between the new Nordstrom store and the future JC Penney.

Lazorchak described that hotels located within a project such as Natick are built in a somewhat different way than you might expect. A mall does not build the hotel tower and then look for a marque: instead, the mall will first sign an agreement with a hotelier for an extended period of time such as 15 or 20 years. Once an agreement is in place, the hotel will use its own architects to design a building and then propose it to the Natick Planning Board for approval.

While the mall still intends to still construct a hotel, they will not be signing the first proposal that they recieve. Lazorchak hinted that the mall would not want to construct a low-grade hotel such as a Holiday Inn next to million dollar condos; rather, the hotel will be more along the lines of a Hyatt or Four Seasons.

And if a Four Seasons in MetroWest sounds ridiculous to you, it's worth noting that Natick's sister mall Tysons Galleria in McLean, Virginia houses a Ritz Carlton.