MANCHESTER – The Planning and Zoning Commission has approved a zoning bylaw amendment that allows hotels and motels to be converted into multi-family units.
After making a few small adjustments to the proposed amendment, the commission unanimously approved the addition of the section to municipal ordinances at its July 7 meeting. It will come into effect on August 1.
In March, representatives from developer Paredim Partners came to the committee to present their plan to convert the Hawthorn Suites hotel at 191 Spencer St. into more than 100 apartments.
The developers wanted to meet with the commission before purchasing the property as they will need to obtain a special exception permit for the site, which is in a general activity area.
This group, known as Paredim Acquisition LLC, proposed the zoning change.
As a result of last week’s vote, existing hotels or motels in the general activity zone can now be converted to multi-family use, subject to approval of a special committee exception.
Paredim Partners attorney Dory Famiglietti said in last week’s meeting that the company’s team has been working with city staff over the past few months to find language to achieve goals. .
She said that with the approval, Paredim Partners will now finalize its site plans to convert Hawthorn Suites into a 110-unit multi-family apartment complex.
According to the new ordinance, such conversion and any future development of land on the site “must be consistent and in harmony with the physical relationship established between existing buildings and the area of the land”, according to the amendment.
“So because we are dealing with the conversion of an existing site and not a vacant lot, the design standards are a bit different,” Famiglietti said. “You’re going to have constraints on what’s there, and any new additions will have to be compatible with what’s there.”
The minimum living area for multi-family units would be 400 square feet for efficiency / studio units; 650 square feet for one bedroom units; and 800 square feet for two bedroom units. For each room over two, an additional 150 square feet is required, depending on the proposed amendment to the ordinance.
There is also a need for recreation spaces in converted motels.
According to the amendment, at least 20% of the gross floor area of the site must be developed for recreational areas usable for active or passive recreation.
At least 50% of this minimum required recreational space must be outdoor areas or facilities. According to city documents, there are approximately five motels or hotels in the General Activity Zone.
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