Local Real Estate Magnates Revitalize Boston

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor Boston is about to regain full local ownership of one of the city’s most recognized landmarks. Donald Saunders, a local real estate magnate who already owns a 45 percent stake in the Park Plaza Hotel, will [...]

Boston is about to regain full local ownership of one of the city’s most recognized landmarks. Donald Saunders, a local real estate magnate who already owns a 45 percent stake in the Park Plaza Hotel, will join forces with Boston’s Rockpoint Group to buy the remaining 55 percent of the hotel from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide for an undisclosed amount.

Opened on March 10, 1927, as part of the E.M. Statler Empire, the Park Plaza Hotel is known for being one of the first hotels to offer in-room radios and “Do Not Disturb” signs. Saunders and his brother bought the hotel in 1976 from the Hilton family, which had announced intentions to close it down. In 1995, Saunders teamed with Starwood to buy his brother’s share of the hotel, in a joint venture that ended in 2005, soon after Starwood CEO Barry Sternlicht left the company.

The hotel’s day-to-day operations are currently run by Highgate Hotels, a privately held hotel management company. Highgate Hotels is expected to keep the hotel’s existing full-time and part-time employees; however, Starwood’s technical staff will have to reapply for their jobs.

Another Boston-based real estate leader has begun construction on three apartment buildings at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station at South Field. On April 28, John M. Corcoran & Co. purchased 6.6 acres at the former military base, which is situated close to a commuter rail station and highways. The $44.6 million development will feature 266 apartments, a fitness center, a community room, 8,700 square feet of retail space and indoor parking. The four-story apartment buildings will be constructed according to certification requirements under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED sustainability program.

Apart from revitalizing the South Field community, the Corcoran development is expected to create as many as 200 construction jobs and generate $1.4 million in host community payments from LNR Property Corp., its master developer.