LENOX — A proposed multimillion-dollar purchase, major renovation and expansion of the Days Inn by Wyndham motel on Pittsfield Road (Route 7/20) is encountering opposition from owners at the adjacent Twelve Oaks Village luxury condominium development.
The Ross Group Development LLC, based in Tulsa, Okla., is under contract to buy the 59-room property on a hill east of the state highway, built in the early 1970s and formerly the Susse Chalet Motor Lodge, for $1,950,000 from the current owner, Lalji LLC. The site had been on the market for $2.3 million The potential new owner seeks to add six guest rooms, and perform a major renovation of the interior and exterior of the two-story building. The plan includes construction of a 2,620-square-foot addition to the 24,000-square-foot property for a new lobby, kitchen, office space, elevator, lounge and large outdoor patio with live music as an amenity for guests only.
A new entrance at the addition on the south side of the building and an upgraded parking lot are included in the site plan prepared by SK Design Group of Pittsfield. The overall construction cost for the expansion is pegged at $3.5 million, according to SK’s proposal on file at Town Hall. The contract for the 5-acre property in the commercial district requires approvals of an all-alcoholic hotel license from the Select Board for the operator, LH Manager Northeast LLC, and a revised special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
At a recent Select Board public hearing, attorney Jeffrey Lynch of Lynch Scrimo described the complete renovation of the current motel.
The interior lounge would have 22 seats, he said, serving alcoholic and other beverages throughout the hotel as a guest amenity from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays.
The lounge also would offer coffee and prepackaged breakfasts, as well as light fare later in the day to complement the beverage service.
“There’s no full kitchen, it’s basically a convenience area for guests to congregate,” Lynch stressed.
He noted that the operator, Lighthouse Property Management, would lease the premises. Lighthouse manages a hotel in Nantucket and operates the upscale Wheatleigh resort in Stockbridge, just south of Tanglewood.
“Lighthouse is eminently qualified to operate and bring the Days Inn to new small boutique standard, which will really be a benefit to Lenox,” Lynch told the Select Board. “We foresee room rates and occupancy would increase, benefiting the town.”
He depicted the current structure as “rather dated,” needing health, safety and operational upgrades. But, attorney John Gobel of Martin & Oliveira in Pittsfield, representing the Twelve Oaks condo owners, raised major objections. Asked to describe the neighbors’ objections, Gobel replied: “Noise is the short answer. There’s nothing in the application that talks about the outdoor entertainment they want to have on this site.” He added traffic, parking and impact on the community to his list of concerns. According to Gobel, the prospective purchasers “are not willing to say they won’t have outside entertainment. It’s something we adamantly oppose.”
He contended that there would be 62 seats at the indoor and outdoor lounge and that “the restaurant and bar would be open to the public.”
He described 30 “high-value residents” at Twelve Oaks living in “a spectacular setting” including an outdoor pool and clubhouse.
“We don’t even allow music at our pool; they really want to enjoy the quiet and peacefulness that the site gives. … We need a covenant, limitation or agreement that there would be no outdoor entertainment, we would be happy with that.”
But, Gobel warned, “if we’re not going to get that promise, then we oppose the application.”
He also advocated postponing Select Board consideration of the all-alcohol hotel license until after the zoning board rules on the project.
“We’ve got the cart before the horse,” he said.
But, Lynch insisted that “nothing dramatic will occur here. Think of a solo guitarist or a jazz trio during a light brunch. This is not a concert hall.”
In an email to The Eagle, Lynch also confirmed that the lounge and patio would not be open to the general public, but will be reserved for hotel guests.
Responding to Gobel’s objections, Select Board Chairman Neal Maxymillian stated, “These are not capricious concerns.”
Board member Marybeth Mitts, who had visited the site, voiced support for “a very modest addition” as “a substantial upgrade in services offered and the quality of rooms there.”
But, Selectman David Roche declared that “in my 10 years as a selectman, we’ve never issued a liquor license on something that hasn’t already been built.”
And Selectman Edward Lane commented, “I’m someone who hates to be rushed on something, I don’t know enough right now to make a good decision, the right decision. I take what the neighbors say seriously.”
The Select Board agreed to defer the public hearing until April 21.
The Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled to take up the amended special permit request and site plan at 7 p.m. March 24.