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Concern Over North Quincy Hotel’s Branding

By SCOTT JACKSON

City officials expressed concern over the branding of a planned North Quincy hotel, with the neighborhood’s city councillor likening it to a “bait and switch.”

Cathartes, a Boston-based real estate development firm, received permission from the Planning Board to build the five-story, 180-room hotel at the corner of Arlington and West Squantum Streets. During the approval process, Cathartes said the hotel would operate under a Marriott or Hilton brand.

On Wednesday, however, Robert Harnais, the attorney representing the developer, told the Planning Board the business would operate as a dual-flag hotel under both the Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites brands.

Harnais appeared before the board seeking approval for changes to the exterior of the proposed building, resulting from the change in branding, as well as additional landscaping improvements. He said there would be no structural changes to the building – it will remain at 180 rooms – and the hotel would still be marketed towards business travels with the same price points as a Marriott or Hilton would have had.

“The price points are the same because we’re attracting the same people,” Harnais said. “It’s not a hotel that they plan on having families come in…it’s a hotel in which business people are going to stay.”

Harnais acknowledged the Holiday Inn Express branding might make board members hesitant to back the change, given that Wednesday’s hearing came one day after a man was shot to death inside a Holiday Inn Express in Dorchester. He said the proposed North Quincy hotel would be an upscale hotel – the same company that operates Cathartes’ Marriott-branded properties will run the North Quincy one.

“This is not the Dorchester hotel. This is an upscale hotel,” Harnais said.  “Their history and their reputation is known for running upscale hotels.”

Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain, in a letter to the Planning Board, compared the change in branding to a bait and switch.

“This was a last-minute surprise following the approval of the project by this very board, which has given me the impression of a bait and switch situation. For the two years I have been aware of this project, the brand of the hotel was reported to be that of a Marriott or a Hilton, but now it’s something else,” said Cain, who did not attend the meeting.

“While I understand that this project is a fait accompli, I just hope that this is not a bad omen for the future of what was once a smooth and positive process until now. I kindly ask that you encourage the developers to stick to their promise of being a good neighbor and partner in Ward 3. I can only wish for the success of their project, for that in turn will benefit our great city.”

Coleman Barry, the board’s vice chairman, also had reservations about the change in branding. He said the board had always been told it would be a Marriott or Hilton, two brands he is familiar with, unlike Holiday Inn Express or Staybridge Suites.

“I know every time I said ‘what flag is going to be flown,’ it was Hilton or Marriott,” Barry said. “I’m not quite on board that this is a minor modification.”

Barry and board member Maureen Glynn also asked Harnais to consider changing the signage on the façade. Under the new plans, both the Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites logos would be placed side by side on the corner of the top floor facing the intersection of Arlington and West Squantum Streets.

“It’s clunky looking to me,” Glynn said. “It’s a different aesthetic than what we were expecting.”

Harnais said he would ask his client to reconsider the signage.

The Planning Board did not vote on the changes to hotel’s exterior and landscaping Wednesday. The applicant will be back before the board Nov. 8, and Harnais said he would have the operator appear before the board that night to assuage officials’ concerns.

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West Quincy Bar Suspended, Has Hours Cut

By SCOTT JACKSON

A Copeland Street bar will be forced to close for five days and had its hours cut permanently for serving alcohol to a minor and having patrons inside after hours, its third and fourth infractions this year, and could lose its license if another violation occurs.

The Board of License Commissioners imposed those punishments Tuesday on Callahan’s Tap. The barroom at 296 Copeland St. will be forced to close from Nov. 1 to Nov. 5 for serving alcohol to a minor during a compliance check on Sept. 9, and had its closing time moved from 1 a.m. to 11 p.m., effective immediately, for having patrons inside after hours on Aug. 27.

In April, the board suspended the bar’s license for a total of six days after patrons were found inside after hours in January and again in March. In 2015, Callahan’s Tap’s license was suspended for five days after a bartender assaulted a patron, and the bar also failed compliance checks in 2012 and 2013.

Police Chief Paul Keenan warned Anthony Donnelly, the bar’s owner, that the board will move to rescind the license if any more violations occur.

“If there is any further violations I strongly urge you to bring an attorney with you next time, because we will be going for revocation,” Keenan said.

Lt. Peter Turowski, the Quincy Police Department’s liquor inspector, said a 20-year-old male was sent into the barroom on Sept. 9 and was able to purchase a beer during the compliance check, one of several conducted throughout the city that day. The compliance checks had previously been advertised in a local newspaper.

Donnelly did not dispute the failed compliance check.

Turowski said a patrol officer was dispatched to the vicinity of Cross and Crescent Streets at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 27 after receiving a report of a group of loud males. When the officer arrived in the area eight minutes later he saw a group of five males standing in front of Callahan’s Tap drinking beer and being loud. The men told the officer they were waiting for a cab after leaving the bar, Turowski said.

Turowski said the patrol officer then walked to the front door of the bar, which was locked, but was able to look inside and saw several patrons at the bar drinking bottles of beer. The patrol officer knocked on the door and was told to leave, then knocked again and identified himself as a Quincy police officer. The patrol officer then watched the bartender gather up the beers and put them behind the bar before opening the door. The officer then spoke with Donnelly, Turowski said, and the owner denied the men had been drinking.

Donnelly told the licensing board that the five men outside the bar had been drinking elsewhere and headed to Callahan’s Tap to catch a cab.

“The reason why the door was locked was because I didn’t want these guys to try and come in,” he said.

Donnelly said the patrons found inside the bar that night were also waiting for cabs.

Under the city’s regulations, no customer is allowed to have alcohol after 1:15 a.m. and all patrons must leave an establishment no later than 1:30 a.m., Keenan said, and the patrol officer arrived on scene that night at 1:55 a.m.

“That’s a long time after 1:15 and a long time after 1:30. They were still in there consuming alcohol. Even if they’re waiting for a cab, there is no reason for them to have alcohol,” Keenan said.

In addition to the afterhours infractions that night, Turowski said Callahan’s Tap also violated city and state law by allowing patrons to take alcohol off premises, locking patrons inside the bar, and interfering with a police officer during an investigation.

The five-day suspension can be appealed to the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission within 10 days. Health Commissioner Drew Scheele, the licensing board’s chairman, said the rollback in hours is a local decision not subject to ABCC review, but could still be appealed in Superior Court.

Donnelly declined comment following the meeting.

Five other establishments failed compliance checks on Sept. 9: Presidential Pub at 29 Temple St., Wollaston Wine & Liquors at 54-60 Beale St., Presidential Liquors at 25 Scammell St., Hancock Liquors at 229 Quincy Ave., and Lucky Wine and Liquors at 66 Newbury St. The owners of each appeared before the board Tuesday, and none disputed the violations.

Turowski said the licensing board had not cited any of those establishments for violations of city or state rules under their current owners. The board issued a written warning to each of them.

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Raffle, Trivia Night Nov. 10 Benefits QHS Boys Hockey

Trivia night flyer final

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Marina Bay Ferry Adds Four Runs Through Dec. 1

The Marina Bay Ferry in Quincy announces it will add four additional ferry runs direct from Squantum Point Park in Marina Bay, Quincy to Fan Pier in the Seaport District of Boston beginning Monday, Oct. 23, and running through Dec. 1.

The updated ferry schedule includes two additional runs in the morning from Quincy to Boston and two additional runs in the early evening from Boston to Quincy during peak traffic periods. The streamlined routes will operate Monday through Friday thanks to a new partnership with Bay State Cruise Company and will allow ferry riders to travel directly to their destination in approximately 20 minutes.

The added routes include the following:

• 7:40 a.m. departure from Quincy, arriving at Fan Pier at 8 a.m.

• 8:25 a.m. departure from Quincy, arriving at Fan Pier at 8:45 a.m.

• 4:55 p.m. departure from Fan Pier, arriving in Quincy at 5:15 p.m.

• 5:40 p.m. departure from Fan Pier, arriving in Quincy at 6 p.m.

These new routes have been added based on feedback from commuters, and will help to determine future scheduling for 2018. A one-way ticket costs $9 and tickets are available for purchase on board only. Ferry riders are also encouraged to utilize the 780 parking spots available at Squantum Point Park for $5 a day.

For more information on scheduling, visit: www.mbferry.com.

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QEA Endorses Andronico, Lebo, Sauter For School Committee

The Quincy Education Association announces it is endorsing three candidates for Quincy School Committee:  Anthony Andronico, Emily Lebo, and Mark Sauter.

“These three candidates will provide strong leadership for our district.  Each has a good understanding of the issues facing our public schools.  They are committed to further strengthening programs as well as expanding offerings to ensure our students continue to receive a high quality education here in Quincy,” said QEA President Allison Cox.  “Additionally, it is vitally important that we have a school committee committed to working with labor — a committee that will work collaboratively with QEA and its members on the issues that are important to us, and QEA feels these three candidates are capable, prepared, and committed to this task.”

In their endorsement, the QEA said:

Anthony Andronico, a product of Quincy Public Schools, is a new voice in Quincy politics.  He impresses QEA as a thoughtful and intelligent man with a passionate interest in giving back to the community and school system in which he was raised.

Incumbent candidate Emily Lebo is a long-time educator from Quincy.  Her deep understanding of education from the perspectives of teacher, administrator, and school committee member, gives her an unmatchable degree of firsthand experience which makes her an invaluable asset to school committee.

Mark Sauter, another relative newcomer, similarly impresses QEA as deeply informed on educational issues and well-prepared to engage in policy-making decisions for this school system.

All three candidates are pledging to work with QEA and its members on issues and decisions that come before School Committee.  “QEA is pleased that all three recognize the important contributions that our members make each and every day in delivering high quality instruction and a great public school experience for our students and their families,” said Cox.

QEA is confident that adding these three candidates to the Quincy School Committee will only further strengthen and improve the collaborative and mutually respectful relationship that currently exists between QEA and QPS and will help ensure our members’ voices are heard in all matters coming before School Committee.

QEA represents 980 professional educators and assistant Principals of the Quincy Public Schools as well as faculty and professional support staff of Quincy College.

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