MANCHESTER -- In an informal poll of the board, the Planning Commission voiced their support for the proposal of a new Mediterranean themed 80-room, 160-seat restaurant and spa that, if ultimately approved, would be located on Route 7A near Town Hall.
"Under what was allowable [at this] site, and this is a site we talked about and reviewed numerous times as one of the opportunities that’s left for developable property in this district, I think this may be as good as it gets for the town," said Planning Commission member William Hersom. "There’s a lot of allowable uses that could go there that are a lot more controversial than this project."
Planning director and zoning administrator Lee Krohn said the commission’s informal support would be passed along to the Development Review Board. Krohn said it was the job of the planning commission to review the site plan and that the DRB would issue a decision under local zoning.
At the commission meeting on Monday, Hersom said that the project -- the application for which was submitted by Alpaslan Basdogan, the President of Asia Minor Carpets Inc. and Depot 62 -- had been created with a lot of taste and character and that the developers were targeting a market that currently does not exist in Manchester.
Project manager Robert Jones said that he has been working for 18 months with various international planned hotel associations gathering information.
"In addition to that, one of our two partners in the management side of it, Suzanne Tremblay, has been involved with the international marketing of hotels for about 16 years and perhaps her greatest success has been her current hotel that she owns and manages down in New York City," said Jones. "She’s developed an extensive program bringing guests from Europe. She intends to spread that program into this project. So, the marketing plan is actually being compiled by her."
In the meeting, Jones said the project -- which is expected to cost about $35 million -- was not intended to compete with any of the hotels and motels in the area.
"Our big plan that is being put together and finalized right now is geared toward a totally different clientele that doesn’t come to Manchester at this time; in fact, for all intensive purposes, doesn’t even come to the United States. We’re going out seeking new tourists.
"What we offer here there is no competition for," said Jones. "We want new people. We want to bring the town some extra business, new business, so that the town can grow and we can grow with it."
Jones acknowledged that the hotel, restaurant and spa may get customers who had previously stayed at some of the other hotels and motels in town, but stated that those were not the people they were targeting.
Though he would not disclose a number, Jones said the price of the suites would not be inexpensive. Jones said there would be three levels of suites and that even the most basic suite would offer those staying them 50 percent more floor space than the average hotel room. When questioned about a potential completion date by resident Richard Scribner -- whose home overlooks the proposed project -- Jones said they hoped to have the hotel completed no later than the fall of 2014.
The project not only includes the construction of the hotel, spa and restaurant, but various other components as well. The existing two-story farm house on the site would be restored for use as a private guest residence. The existing barn would be converted into office space and a storage area and if the project is approved a new barn would be built to serve as a storage area for about 10 antique cars as well as other items. The proposed project also includes the construction of a 3,200-square-foot single family home to be built off Village View Road that would serve as the owner’s private residence, according to previous reports.
There is also the possibility that stewardship of the Northshire Day School barn may be turned over to the applicant as part of the project.
"As we often do the inquiries were made to try to at least play matchmaker," said Krohn. "The (Northshire) Day School board voted to allow this landowner to take that barn under certain conditions, but it’s really up to this applicant to [determine] if that works for them."
The school assumed stewardship of the barn in 2003-04 with the intent of restoring it and using it as an extension of the day school, but could not afford to spend the money required -- reported to have been somewhere between $300,000 and $1 million -- to restore it. According to previous reports, the Northshire Day School had been seeking alternatives to keeping the historic barn, which has been deteriorating.