Hotel planned for Church Street

As the external construction on 205 Church St. nears completion, renovations will turn inward as developers plan for a new hotel. Which hotel, though, is anyone’s guess.

The historic building has been undergoing comprehensive exterior renovations since earlier this year to repair its once-crumbling edifice. Although several city officials said the time line for renovations of the 11-story building has yet to be determined, plans include a business-class hotel, with the Wachovia bankon the ground floor remaining. Though New York-based development firm Hampshire Hotels & Resorts purchased the building three years ago, the bulk of the logistics remain subject to negotiations.

Brendan McNamara, Hampshire Hotels’ vice president of brand development and communications, said Wednesday that repair work at 205 Church St. — a colonial revival-style structure built in 1928 — is likely to be completed within the next few months and that his firm is in the process of selecting an architect, a contractor and a more concrete plan for moving ahead with the extensive renovations. Hampshire Hotels has not yet requested the zoning permit necessary to open a hotel on the premises.

McNamara said the firm has consulted with various contractors but is not wed to any architect or construction company, adding that Hampshire Hotels will not have a definitive plan until they establish a brand alliance with another franchise. Under such an agreement, another hotel franchise will put its name on the building while Hampshire Hotels will most likely operate and manage the facility itself, he explained.

He said each hotel brand requires certain specifications for new constructions, such as room sizes and the number of indoor restaurants, before they seal an agreement with a contractor. As a result, the exact dimensions and number of rooms are uncertain. Certain amenities such as meeting and conference spaces will likely be included in the plan, he said.

“We want to build a good business-class hotel that would serve the community in the broadest sense,” he said.

The building’s upper floors, previously rented out as office spaces, will be gutted, though Wachovia will remain untouched as per its extended lease, said Tony Bialecki, city deputy director of economic development.

The new Church Street hotel will join several other hotels near the University, including the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale, the Courtyard by Marriott and The Study at Yale, which opened last October.

City Plan Department Executive Director Karyn Gilvarg ARC ’75 pointed out Thursday that hotel occupancy rates in New Haven have remained fairly constant during the recession.

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