GROTON -- Developers of a new Groton Inn had their design plans approved by the town Tuesday when the Historic Districts Commission voted to award them a certificate of appropriateness.
The certificate approves designs for the project that developers Chris Ferris and Richard Cooper of 128 Main Street LLC based on historic features of the original inn, which was destroyed by fire in 2011.
"It's been a great review process," said architect Peter Pitman immediately after the decision.
"There was a great spirit of collaboration well supported by the community and town boards. And all of it was accomplished in the historical context of the district," he said.
The meeting with the HDC was the last in a review process that went smoothly among the town's various land use boards.
The week before, the Planning Board had completed its own site-plan review for the inn project, voting to grant developers a special permit.
The HDC hearing covered different parts of the project that included the inn building, a carriage house, long-term rental units, and short-term units grouped under one roof called "the stables" by planners.
Fashioned to resemble a colonial-era stable, the building will hold rooms for rent with period features such as garden area and horse trough.
The inn building will consist of a ground floor with room for a gift shop, a 50-seat restaurant, a function room, and office space, while the second and third floors will hold 29 guest rooms and a basement area with studio and office space, and a gym.
Next door, the carriage house will include a caretaker's apartment on the second floor with a ground floor given over to a possible rental shop for skis, bicycles, and other sporting equipment or community space.
A trio of other townhouse style buildings will offer permanent one and two bedroom rental spaces with views encompassing nearby Gibbet Hill.
Concerns covered at the public hearing Tuesday involved landscaping, lighting, "clutter" on the inn grounds facing Main Street, and provisions for recovery of any archeological artifacts of possible value to the town that might be unearthed during construction.
Among architectural details, commissioners questioned Pitman on the columns that will support the front porch; window, door, clapboard, shingle, and gutter styles; colors of paint; and possible extension of the front porch around one side of the building to help minimize the size of a proposed fireplace there.
Commissioners' vote was contingent on a number of conditions listed in draft form, including those covering protection of existing mature vegetation at the site, decorative and retaining walls to be fashioned in New England fieldstone style, use of color photos of existing buildings for comparison purposes, protection of any historic artifacts found on the site, materials used in the construction of the inn building to be consistent with available historic information, and review and approval of paint colors to be used on site prior to their being applied.
According to Cooper, with the HDC's approval, he and his partner will move to close on the purchase of the property from current owner George Pergantis with hope of breaking ground some time in August.
The 8 1/2-acre property is on Main Street in the heart of downtown.
"I would like to thank all of the consultants, architects, and the entire team that have brought this project to fulfillment," said Cooper. "This has been an extremely collaborative and creative process and I feel that we have a great product here that will be a benefit to the entire community."