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BOSTON-A major new hotel project could be developed here in the heart of the city if the zoning commission approves the changes sought by the developers, Sawyer Enterprises and Loews Hotels. The project, the Loews Hotel Boston development, already has the approval of the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

The $150-million project would be 25 stories high and would 390 rooms, a 3,500-sf lobby, a restaurant and a 121-space underground garage. The project, which would be located at the corner of Tremont and Stuart streets, reportedly has the support of city Mayor Thomas M. Menino, along with the BRA approval, but that does not guarantee that the zoning change request will be granted.

The developers have already requested a zoning change for the project last year, but the commission did not allow the change, insisting that the project receive BRA approval first. The zoning change being requested by the developers involves changing the area into an urban renewal district, which would enable the project to reach its proposed height of 274 feet. If the zoning commission denies the request, developers would have two more chances to win a change.

The request faces opposition from local residents who object to the size of the project. The opposition wants to maintain the original zoning requirements to protect the nature of the area, which includes Chinatown and Bay Village. Other concerns are the increase in traffic and the sense that the approval of the project lacked enough public participation.

While members of the Bay Village Neighborhood Association oppose the project, the Chinatown Neighborhood Council supports it. John P. Connolly, vice president of Sawyer Enterprises, did not return calls by presstime, but in a released statement he says, “For the past two years, we have worked closely with neighborhood groups, abutters, leaders in our city’s cultural community and the travel and tourism industry to finalize our plans for the Loews Hotel Boston.”

The project will provide the city with $1.3 million in housing linkage funds and $250,000 in job linkage payments. The fourth floor of the building will be leased to Emerson College for rehearsal space.

Furthermore, the mayor and other city officials are pleased that developers plan to lease the fourth floor to Emerson College to use for rehearsal space. While the BRA is pushing the zoning panel to vote on the matter today, it may not happen. There needs to be six members present to hold the meeting and seven to vote. Seven “yes” votes are needed for approval.

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