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Boston / Kansas developer enamored of Japanese capsule hotels wants to build one on High Street downtown

Kansas developer enamored of Japanese capsule hotels wants to build one on High Street downtown

What $65 a night on High Street would buy you. From a Wharf District Council presentation.

Update: The licensing board deferred its vote so it can take a look at last week’s zoning-board extension on the project.

The Boston Licensing Board decides tomorrow whether to let Chris Elsey, a developer from Manhattan, KS, build a 14-story hotel on what is now a tiny parking lot on High Street with 100 two-person pods, similar to, if a bit larger than. the pods found in Japanese capsule hotels.

A previous owner of the parcel won city approval more than seven years ago to build a more traditional hotel with 50 smallish rooms, but despite four extensions from the Zoning Board of Appeal, was never able to start work on the project.

Elsey bought the property earlier this year and last week, won a fifth extension from the zoning board to begin work before Jan. 21, 2022. Acting board Chairman Mark Erlich said that normally the board would reject a fifth extension on a project, but he and other board members agreed to give Elsey more time since it was the other guy who’d gotten earlier extensions while this was Elsey’s first such request for the project.

Elsey details his proposal to the licensing board today:

At a hearing today before the licensing board – which grants licenses for hotels and similar facilities, Elsey said he will keep the earlier building’s general dimensions, but that instead of 50 hotel rooms, would install 100 4x4x8 double-deck pods, each with enough bed room for two people. Renderings of the pods.

The pods would give downtown Boston a discount lodging space for people to enjoy Boston at a reduced price. He said that while, in pre-Covid days, the average downtown hotel room went for $265 a night, his capsules would go for just $65 a night. He added that each pod would have its own lock.

The building’s 14th floor would remain empty for now, to await the liquor license Elsey said he would eventually seek for a restaurant there.

Elsey, who started out building apartments near Midwest colleges, has recently begun branching out to the coasts. Earlier this year, he proposed an apartment building in San Francisco that would include 65 underground pods, although with a sunken courtyard to provide some modicum of natural light.

Both the mayor’s office and the office of City Councilor Ed Flynn opposed the proposal, citing concerns of members of the Wharf District Council. However, they did not specify what those concerns were.



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