Letter: New Elm Court could end up flipped
To the editor of THE EAGLE:
As a full-time Stockbridge resident and an abutter of the Elm Court Estate, here’s why the current proposal is bad for Stockbridge and Lenox.
The truth about the plans for Elm Court can be found by looking at the Amstar website. Amstar is the company that bought the estate for the purpose of development. This company makes its profit by purchasing underdeveloped or distressed properties. It builds them up and sells them to chain hotel operators. The Amstar website lists 12 hospitality properties in its portfolio, while actually the company currently owns only five. The other seven are listed as "exited."
The names on some of these hotels are very familiar. They include Hilton, Courtyard by Marriott, Westin and Doubletree Inn. The company was founded in 1987. Its website states "Originally formed to invest and manage the real estate allocation of a large family office client, Amstar began expanding its capital strategy nearly a decade ago." This means that in the last 10 years Amstar has purchased 12 hospitality properties and "exited" seven. This is not a company that makes a long term commitment to a community.
Why does Amstar want to build an additional 96-room hotel attached to the already more than 100 rooms in the existing Elm Court building? The answer is simple. The minimum number of rooms a chain operator like Hilton or Marriott will franchise is 96. Look at the number of rooms being built by the Hilton Garden behind Guido’s or the proposed Marriott on Route 7.
Elm Court has enough rooms in the existing footprint for smart development that won’t destroy a residential neighborhood. The Stockbridge Board of Selectmen should not allow the addition of 96 rooms so that Amstar can flip the property for a profit.
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