PITTSFIELD -- A building permit has been issued by the city for a 95-room Hilton Gardens hotel off South Street, although construction of the four-story building has yet to begin.
Gerald Garner, Pittsfield's building commissioner, confirmed this week the permit was issued for the 64,148-square-foot hotel project, which is estimated in the design plans as costing $8,162,540.
Garner said the building permit was issued after a series of meetings involving city inspection officials and representatives of the developer, Vijaysinh N. Mahida and Prem Management Inc., to examine and review details of the project. The hotel site is a 2.4-acre parcel at 1032-34 South St., formerly the site of Dr. Lahey's Garden Center and located behind Guido's Fresh Marketplace.
Despite the lengthy review by city officials, Garner said no major changes from the original proposed design were required. An earlier permit from the city allowed site work and improvements to the access drive to be undertaken. That driveway, which is the subject of a lawsuit filed at Berkshire Superior Court by a corporate entity linked to a rival developer, has now been given a coating of asphalt.
Attorney Thomas Hamel, of Martin, Oliveira & Hamel, whose firm has represented Mahida and Prem Management, said in a phone message Wednesday that more details about the project will be released soon.
Issues that may remain to be settled include the lawsuit over access rights to the 40-foot-wide driveway to the site, filed against Prem Management by Eastern States Real Estate Management, LLC, a corporate entity with ties to Joseph M. Toole. His development company, Toole Lodging Group Inc., plans a 92-room Courtyard Marriott hotel nearby at 21 Dan Fox Drive.
However, the Marriott project sustained a setback last month when the state Department of Environmental Protection overturned a wetlands-related work permit issued by the city after an appeal from members of a local environmental group.
Toole has said he will appeal that DEP decision.
In the lawsuit, a hearing is scheduled in January in a motion by the defense for a summary judgment in the suit. William E. Martin, of Martin, Oliveira & Hamel, is representing Prem Management.
The other issue likely to be raised relates to the traffic impact of a 95-room hotel. City officials have said the hotel is a "by-right" use in the business district and a site plan review -- which might address traffic and other site issues -- is not required.
The state Department of Transportation has approved a curb cut for the driveway from South Street, or Route 7, just south of the Guido's parking lot. Eastern States Real Estate Management, which owns a different parcel along the access driveway, is challenging the use for the Hilton project and wants to include objections to the DOT curb cut decision in the suit.
The state Attorney General's office is representing the DOT in the suit.
To reach Jim Therrien:
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