Planned Seaport hotel expected to boost convention business

Omni Resorts & Hotels and New Boston Hospitality, LLC, have been tapped to develop a 1,054-room, mixed-use hotel project with a pair of 20-floor towers across from the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in South Boston’s Seaport District.

The $550 million, 800,000-square-foot complex will include 40,000 square feet of retail space on Summer and D streets, and World Trade Center Avenue. The project, slated to open in 2021, is designed to serve the BCEC’s meeting, convention and events business and as a lifestyle/hospitality destination for local residents.

It will be built without public subsidies on a 2-acre Massachusetts Port Authority-owned site. The Massport board yesterday authorized the agency to sign a development agreement and 90-year ground lease for the project. Massport will receive about $100 million from the lease and a share of project revenue.

The site was originally eyed for a “headquarters” hotel with at least 1,200 rooms to serve a $1 billion BCEC expansion quashed by Gov. Charlie Baker in 2015. Massport scaled back plans and issued a new request for proposals for a mixed-use hotel project with at least 250 rooms.

“These guys came in at 1,054, which we were happy about because that was really more consistent with what would strengthen the convention center in the marketplace,” Massport CEO Thomas Glynn said.

Massachusetts Convention Center Authority executive director David Gibbons last year said 1,800 more full-service hotel rooms were needed within a half-mile of the BCEC to prevent it from becoming a “perishable product.” The Omni hotel will have 120,000 square feet of meeting/event space, including a 25,000-square-foot ballroom that will be Boston’s largest. An underground tunnel will connect the hotel to the BCEC.

The project will be a “key selling point as we compete to bring events to Boston from around the world,” Gibbons said.

Dallas-based Omni operates Boston’s Omni Parker House hotel. New Boston Hospitality includes Boston developer The Davis Cos. and Robin Brown, the former 13-year Four Seasons Hotel Boston general manager who co-developed the Mandarin Oriental Boston hotel. Six local nonprofits will receive an unspecified portion of the hotel’s profits.

The hotel rooms will include 30 suites and 278 smaller “innovation” rooms. Amenities will include a spa/fitness center, event terrace, elevated pool deck, bar and two fine dining and casual restaurants.
A pedestrian bridge will link the hotel and a 1,550-space parking facility that Massport is building nearby and is expected to open early next year.