Historic landmark makes way for hotel

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Brittany Williams

MELANIE MACDONALD, Staff Writer

Forty-seven to sixty-one Commercial Street is now the location of a construction site. Mounds of rock and dirt are piled high among the otherwise leveled terrain.

This is a much different scene compared to fifty years ago, when the Fort was a bustling fishing neighborhood, where large catches of fish were landed and processed.

The Birdseye Building, a landmark in Gloucester for decades, has been torn down and is going to be replaced with the brand new Beauport hotel. The hotel construction is expected to take eighteen months  and will  incorporate a restaurant, conference room, and a swimming pool.

People had been talking about doing something for so long, when the demolition occurred, it came as a surprise to many.

“I was absolutely shocked,” said Gloucester High School alumni Caroline Gaipo.  “I had no idea that they  actually tore it down. I said to myself, ‘What is this pile of rubble?’ Gloucester is changing and it is weird to come back to”.

There has been much debate over what should happen to this former frozen food factory. Those in favor of the hotel believe that the hotel will create jobs among the community, and  will promote local businesses.

According to Mayor Kirk, the hotel will create a variety of jobs in hospitality, management, and custodial services. It will stand among the homes and businesses of the fort.

“It’s a very eclectic neighborhood” said Mayor Kirk “It’s not like we are taking the hotel and putting it in a residential neighborhood”.

Not everyone thinks the hotel is a good idea.  “Waterfront experts have long warned that you should never challenge productive local businesses like those on the Fort by locating condos, yacht marinas or hotels nearby,” said Gloucester native and writer Peter Anastas.  “A luxury hotel in the middle of a working class neighborhood is bound to fuel gentrification, which will transform the character of the Fort and drive out the last of its traditional residents and their culture and folkways.”

For others, the demolition of this famous white factory leaves a feeling of loss.  “I’m sad whenever we lose a historic building in town,” said GHS English teacher Mr. James Cook.  “When we lose something, there’s a greater chance we will pretend it never existed.”

Since Gloucester has such a rich history, it is hard for some residents to see the past being replaced with a modern hotel.

“I worry if we are planning the town for people who live here or to entice people to come here” said Cook.  “The people who live here year round may lose out if we focus too much on the hospitality industry.”

While a new hotel may change the character of the neighborhood, many think the change will be for the best.

“This is going to bring in a lot of money, and job opportunities to Gloucester,” said GHS senior Lauren McNair. “It is going to help create more job for teenagers, which we really need.”