Whatever its final form, developers of a planned hotel pledged it would fit in with downtown Rutland.
Representatives of DEW Construction met with city officials Wednesday to get feedback on some preliminary design ideas. The joint meeting of the Development Review Board and Architectural Review committee was also attended by Mayor David Allaire and several members of the Board of Aldermen.
The developers intend to build a four- or five-story hotel at the corner of Center Street and Wales Street, the site of the downtown parking pit and the now-vacant former Rutland Herald building. DEW submitted some plans to the city earlier this month, but the developers stressed their preliminary nature again Wednesday.
“We are just in the very earliest stages of getting this project started,” engineer Nicole Kesselring said. “We are really here tonight to talk concept ... and get feedback.”
The concept, according to architect Greg Rabideau, is either a Hilton or a Marriott catering to guests seeking a three- to nine-night stay. He said the hotel chain would largely dictate the interior, but that the developers would have significant leeway on the exterior.
“It’s not going to look like a Hilton or a Marriott that’s at a highway exit in Kansas,” he said. “This isn’t going to be something that has vinyl siding on it, obviously.”
Instead, Rabideau said he anticipated an “urban palette of materials.” He also said the entry should face Center Street and give a “sense of arrival” with some feature like the front canopy included in the preliminary design.
“There’s an opportunity where the cars pull in for a real sense of drama,” he said. “If you have that wow moment at the front of the hotel, it’ll set your expectation for your whole time in Rutland.”
The developers also noted that while there would be a standard breakfast service, the hotel would not include a restaurant that might compete with other downtown establishments.
Alvin Figiel, a member of the Architectural Review committee, said he was encouraged by the ideas DEW presented and stressed the importance of maintaining “continuous facades” downtown. He said a four- or five-story building on the site would draw no objection from him.
“Some of the major corners are anchored by very, very tall buildings,” he said. “I think the higher the better, in a sense.”
Figiel also advocated for a brick facade.
Allaire suggested the developers look at photos of the Berwick Hotel, which stood where the pit now lies until a fire in 1973.
“We don’t necessarily want to replicate that ... but I think it’ll help you mold what was there, the good points for downtown, versus what you want looking forward,” he said.
Rabideau said the meeting was encouraging and the feedback useful. He said that in addition to city permitting, the project would have to go through Act 250 — which in response to a downtown resident, he said would include a traffic study — but was eligible for a version of the process fast-tracked for designated downtowns.
“The assumption is that by going through the designated downtown process, the city is saying this is where they want growth,” he said.