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Hearing held for town's 2nd hotel proposed near Heights

hotel mockup, Lincoln ArchitectsHotel mockup, Mass. Ave. eastbound. / Lincoln Architects

UPDATED, July 26: An estimated 50 people attended a hearing Monday, July 22, for a propose second hotel in Arlington, at the site of the long-closed Disabled American Veterans social club and a currently open automotive repair shop in the Heights.

The developer is 1211 Mass. Ave. Realty Trust, headed by James F. Doherty, a former member of the town Board of Assessors. He is town appraiser/assistant assessor in Burlington.

Plans call for a four-story, 50-room "boutique" facility, named on a model as Lexington Hotel, and an "upscale restaurant."

In a July 16 memo to the Redevelopment Board, Jenny Raitt, planning director, wrote that the hotel could draw to the town as much as about $150,000 in annual tax revenue.

Hearing held July 22

The Redevelopment Board held a hearing about the plan on Monday, July 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyons conference room, second floor, Town Hall. See the agenda >> 

A summary of the hearing, continued to September, was published >>

Homewood Suites of Connecticut has owned the town's only current hotel since 2002. Between the Menotomy Grill and the Cambridge line, the 100-room hotel is called Claremont Arlington Suites in town records.

The site in question involves plots in two zoning districts: B2 Neighborhood, for 1207 Mass. Ave. Ave., location of the DAV, and B4 Vehicular-oriented business district, for 1211 Mass. Ave., where Precision is.

Doherty seeks a special permit in accord with these zoning bylaws:

  • 5.5.3: mixed use;
  • 5.3.17: upper-story setback;
  • 6.1.5: parking reduction in a business district; and
  • 5.3.6: exception to maximum floor-area-ratio regulations.

Doherty has provided a memo, explaining further detail >>

The plans, filed in June, have already drawn notice. Chris Loreti, a former member of the Redevelopment Board, has exchanged emails with Town Counsel Doug Heim. Loreti has questioned whether the mixed-use provision adopted by Town Meeting in 2016 applies to this project.

Don Seltzer noted on the Arlington email list July 15 that Arlington Residents For Responsible Redevelopment have been studying the submitted plans for the last week and a half and will report on their detailed findings at the hearing next week. Meanwhile, the group has published a blog entry offering background in a mix of fact and opinion.

As to parking, the site has 24 present spaces, and the developer seeks 28, seeking relief from the minimum of 50 required.

The 14,030-square-foot lot would have 160.12 feet of frontage on Mass. Ave.

The project would eliminate two large driveways, as well as realign the sidewalk and curb. Parking would be in the rear via a single curb cut.

Historical connections nearby

The site has no historical structures, but the location is near the Old Schwamb Mill and the Foot of the Rocks, site of fighting between Colonists and British Regulars retreating from the Battle of Lexington in 1775.

In her July 16 memo, Raitt wrote that the proposed hotel’s proximity to Lexington, which welcomes more than 100,000 tourists per year, "makes it well-positioned to absorb some of the local and regional heritage and business travel, which would provide an economic benefit to the Town of Arlington and local businesses.

"Neighborhood residents have voiced the critical importance for more restaurants and mixed-use based on feedback gathered from residents as well as a market demand analysis that were part of the development of the Arlington Heights Neighborhood Action Plan." 

Documents on file in the Planning Department say the project's goal is to "to leverage Lexington tour groups" and "introduce them to the town where the first shots of the Revolution were fired!"

They also say the "proposed development will transform a blighted area and provide a missing dinning [sic] option in the Heights as well as Hotel for visitors."

The site is near MBTA bus routes, and cyclists can reach the Minuteman Bikeway via nearby Ryder Street.

Traffic impact

Raitt's memo also says that "the application materials do not provide detailed information regarding the traffic impact of the new use. The ARB must request additional information from the applicant on the following topics before determining that this criterion is satisfied."

Proposed bicycle storage is for a total of 14.

The request for proposals waived all permitting fees.

Lincoln Architects of Winchester is designing the project. A clearer image than the one of the hotel accompanying this report has been requested.


The Doherty trust owns 1211 Mass. Ave., but the town, through the Select Board, still holds title to 1207, which it has since the 1920s.

In response to a question from YourArlington, Heim wrote that the parties have a signed purchase-and sale agreement for that location and a deposit is in escrow.

The closing is contingent on the receipt of special permits for a mixed-use project and the execution of a mixed-use deed restriction, both of which are consistent with the request for proposals, he wrote. In other words, the town conditioned the sale to any buyers on the redevelopment of the parcel as a mixed-use project, which requires a special permit subject to environmental design review.

March 11, 2015: Articles to regulate signs, sell DAV, support master plan supported

Nov. 26, 2014: Short-term tenancy for former DAV could lead to co-working

This news summary was published Monday, July 15, 2019, and updated July 26.

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