Wednesday after the Delaplaine Center event broke up I spoke with Pete Plamondon Jr for five minutes or so. I asked him what he’d do if as I expect the historic preservation regulators (MHT or HPC) rule against demolition of the Birely Tannery. Could the project then proceed by excising the conference center since it is located right on the Tannery building site? He didn’t answer directly and I can’t blame him for that. If I’d been in his shoes I wouldn’t have answered directly.
“We looked very hard at how we could save it.” he said of the Birely Tannery building. “We asked the architects to find ways (to avoid it). I went to three different architects. They all said the same thing: it can’t be done. We can’t fit in what the City requested and what we think the market demands (while preserving the Birely.)”
So what happens to the project if they say you can’t remove the Birely Tannery, I asked again?
The space occupied by the Tannery is an integral part of the project, Plamondon said. Not just the conference center at the new ground level (and level of the Carroll Creek park promenade) but the basement space underground, the parking garage which was needed for the hotel regardless.
I asked whether they’d consider downsizing the project…
Plamondon replied: “Then it would be a whole different project.”
Indeed, no one would contest that.
The smaller project, and here I’m commenting independent of the conversation with Mr Plamondon, would require renegotiation of the deal with the City. And given that the onsite parking is sized for the hotel, and not for the conference center, the hotel might have to be scaled back from 207 rooms to say 160 or 140. New financial terms would be needed. Very complicated. PSam 2016.08.19