Developer Nissim Shimon Trabelsi says he's talking to several hotel management companies - including the one that runs the King David Hotel in Jerusalem - about running the chain of hotels he hopes to start with one on VFW Parkway in West Roxbury at the Dedham line.
At a community meeting called by the BRA tonight, Trabelsi told both the local union construction workers and the members of Temple Hillel B'nai Torah of West Roxbury who made up much of the crowd that he's very willing to hire union workers to build the 69-room hotel where the old McDonald's used to be - and to then staff the hotel with union housekeepers and maintenance workers.
The temple's rabbi, Barbara Penzner, said members of her congregation are looking forward to a place where their relatives can stay and where they can get a glatt kosher meal - if they can be assured that the people serving them are unionized. In addition to a glatt-kosher restaurant, the hotel will also have his and hers mikvah baths for observant Jews - along with a swimming pool, ballroom and pool.
Although union members and Penzner pressed him to sign agreements now committing both him and whatever hotel-management firm he hires to go 100% union, Trabelsi said he doesn't want to sign any binding agreements until after he wins approval from the BRA.
The BRA board has yet to schedule a vote on the proposed hotel - and will be accepting comments from the public for another two weeks. The hotel does not need approval by the zoning board.
With the union issue out of the way, Trabelsi then had to answer to a West Roxbury resident who said she just couldn't understand why he wanted to build a hotel in her "kind of dull and boring" neighborhood of single-family homes occupied by quiet people who just pay their taxes and send their kids to school.
Trabelsi said the old McDonald's site - sandwiched between a car dealership and a pet-supply store, just up the street from Boston's only trailer park and within a short walk of both a large apartment building and a six-story condo building - "is the most beautiful lot on the whole VFW Parkway."
He noted it's just 300 feet from the Charles River, is bordered by woods and is right across the street from both a McDonald's and a Burger King. "We have everything there," he enthused.
A member of West Roxbury's Jewish community said he, for one, is looking forward to a place where he can put up his relatives that is closer than Newton or downtown - and where he can get a meal that doesn't involve a trip to Brookline or downtown.
The meeting got briefly testy when one of the union members noticed another person in the District E-5 community room was videoing the presentation with his cell phone and demanded he stop. The man said it was a public meeting. A BRA rep said you could only record if you let people know at the start of the meeting, the man protested again, but agreed to stop when the police officer sitting behind him agreed with the BRA rep and told him to stop. Then the union guy said that was good, because otherwise, he would have stopped the recording himself.