Ed Crowley, owner of the popular Stony Creek Brewery, unveiled plans Wednesday to build a 34-room boutique hotel along the Branford River.
The waterfront hotel would be built on the site of the former Paul’s Wire Rope & Sling company at 4-6 Indian Neck Avenue, which is across from the brewery. The Crowley family, who live in Branford, purchased the property for $600,000 in September 2016.
“We thought it would be an ideal location to revitalize the hotel industry that Pine Orchard, Indian Neck and Short Beach once had,” Crowley said, adding that the town once had a rich history of seaside hotels.
Crowley and his development team made an informal presentation of their plans at the morning meeting of the Town Center Revitalization Review Board (TCRRB).
He hopes to submit an application to the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission in July.
Town Planner Harry Smith, who attended the meeting, said a P&Z public hearing could be scheduled in September. The first step would be a change in the existing Planned Development District (PDD) and Master Plan, which includes the Anchor Reef condominiums and the brewery. The original Anchor Reef PDD included a proposal for a large hotel in a different location, but those plans never materialized.
Crowley said two feasibility studies for the riverfront hotel have already been completed. “We are now in the process of interviewing third-party operators for the hotel. These are New England regional operators. They run great boutique hotels.” Click here to read a story in the New York Times on boutique hotels.
Following the meeting, Crowley told the Eagle that the tentative name of the hotel is Tidal Lodge, but he said the name will probably change before the plans are finalized.
A View of the New Hotel
Crowley told the TCRRB that the rooms would be about 420 square feet, compared to a national average of 325 square feet. He said they are still working on a price range but he anticipates it might be about $150 to $250 per night. He said Branford has many activities and weekend events, but that people have to go elsewhere to find waterfront hotels. “We’re losing the opportunity of keeping these people in Branford,” he said.
Crowley said about 30 percent of visitors who tour the brewery are from out-of-state, and many are looking to extend their stay. The brewery, which opened two years ago, has become a popular venue for social gatherings, civic events, and educational forums, a destination spot for many.
He said the hotel could take advantage of the transit opportunities of the nearby Shoreline East Train Station, which has recently been expanded. The hotel would also be within walking distance of the Town Center and numerous restaurants in the area.
The town is currently conducting a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) study, which is looking at properties in a half-mile radius of the train station. The next TOD public workshop is June 22 at 7 p.m. at Branford Fire Headquarters.
Crowley said the former Paul’s Wire building is currently leased to another wire rope business until December 2018. He said the company is looking for another site in the vicinity.
Architect Joe Sepot of Branford said all guest rooms will face the Branford River. “It’s a beautiful view,” he said.
In addition to guest rooms, Sepot said the lobby would be on the first floor, a conference room and gym on the second floor, and a roof-top garden on the third floor. The service areas on the rear side of the building would face the train tracks.
Sepot said the exterior would be cedar shingles, with a base of pink Stony Creek Granite. He said the street-level parking lot below the hotel would be open-air but would have a landscaping screen.
Engineer Jim Pretti, of Criscuolo Engineering in Branford, said the existing one-story building, which is 10,000 square feet, would be torn down. Pretti said plans for the new site may include a boardwalk and possibly a small floating dock for launching kayaks.
Both Sepot and Pretti were part of the development team that created the Stony Creek Brewery.
Members of the TCRRB asked questions and offered suggestions, and some informally indicated the plans seem feasible.
Chairman Norbert Church said the proposal would be tabled for additional discussion at a future meeting since this was an informal presentation. Church said the TCRRB had experience with the Crowley family when they presented their plans for the brewery. “Everything you do, you do well,” he told Crowley at the end of the presentation.