Tuesday, June 13, 2017

State looks to cash in on booming, online home-sharing industry

SALEM — Airbnb, the online vacation home-sharing company, had more listings in Salem last Halloween, 105, than the 93 rooms available at the Hawthorne Hotel, which is typically booked solid during the holiday.
But unlike the Hawthorne Hotel, property owners who use websites like Airbnb, Flipkey by Trip Advisor, VRBO, and HomeAway to promote short-term rentals have collected a dime in hotel room taxes.
That could change if a provision in the state Senate's version of the budget passes.
At the same time, both local and state officials say they are just as concerned about regulating the nascent vacation home sharing industry as they are with taxing it.
"I'm worried about who's going to make sure that these people have carbon monoxide detectors and fire detectors," said Salem state Rep. Paul Tucker, the city's former police chief. "There has to be a regulation piece and somebody has to pay for that, and that is really where the fees and taxes should come in."
Home-sharing services offer an online platform that allows hosts to advertise an extra room in their house, cottage, apartment or condominium, or even an entire home for short-term rental. The site takes care of collecting the money from the guest.
Airbnb says it's a way for homeowners to make ends meet or save for retirement. 
Salem, which sees a heavy influx of tourists during the Halloween season, has the larges number of active hosts — 96 — listed on the North Shore, according to Airbnb.
During Halloween weekend, 300 guests were accommodated by Airbnb hosts, twice the total during Halloween in 2015, according to the company.
The average nightly price of booked listings during Halloween weekend was $210. The typical Salem host made $800 during Halloween weekend, and they earn $9,100 a year, Airbnb says. Guest arrivals for Halloween were up 130 percent from last Halloween.
Support for expanding the room occupancy tax to home-sharing sites is gaining momentum on Beacon Hill.
"I think when you bring in a new industry, such as Airbnb ... I think that is fair game, relative to a discussion," House Speaker Robert DeLeo told the North Shore Chamber of Commerce last week. 
Find out more from the Salem News here

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Lahey Health leader says community care costs less

DANVERS — Amid talk of soaring Bay State health care costs and uncertainty about the Affordable Care Act, the head of Lahey Health told North Shore business leaders that people need to consider their community hospitals before heading to Boston for care.
Lahey Health President and CEO Dr. Howard Grant spoke to a packed ballroom of business leaders Wednesday morning at the North Shore Chamber of Commerce’s Health Care Breakfast at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. 
Grant noted that health care costs are the No. 1 concern of business leaders, in a state that he said has one of the finest health care systems around — and one of the most expensive.
The Lahey CEO also addressed Monday’s announcement that the boards of Lahey and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have signed a letter of intent to explore combining the two health care systems. While Grant did not give specifics, he gave a general timeline for the merger.
“It’s something that we are really excited about,” he said. “It’s not something that will happen overnight. We will go through a considerable amount of due diligence over the next three or four months, and then there will be a long regulatory process for another year or so after that.”
Grant said both organizations were committed to what he called a “high value model. We believe there is an opportunity to sustain the quality of care that exists in Massachusetts today without compromising quality and lowering your costs over time. I think we are capable of doing that.”
The process will require state and federal approvals.
Lahey Health represents the 2012 merger of Northeast Health System and Lahey Clinic Foundation. On the North Shore, this includes Beverly Hospital, Lahey Medical Center in Peabody, Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester and Lahey Outpatient Center in Danvers.
Health care costs ‘unsustainable’
Calling the cost of health care in Massachusetts “unsustainable,” Grant said the cost is 36 percent higher here than the national average. A large part of the problem is that people prefer to go to higher cost teaching hospitals in Boston, making it harder to sustain community hospitals. 
About 40 percent of Medicare discharges happen at downtown academic medical centers in Massachusetts, Grant said, compared with a 16-percent national average. A procedure in Boston can cost double or triple what it would cost at a community hospital.
Read the Entire Salem News Article here

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Our view: Salem State president leaves legacy of integrity, commitment

When Patricia Maguire Meservey took over as president of Salem State College in 2007, she had some big shoes to fill.
Former President Nancy Harrington, a native of Salem, had pretty much devoted her adult life to the college, where she was widely respected, and had forged strong ties with the city and the community.
Ten years later, it is Meservey who is leaving; she announced last week that she will retire at the end of this academic year. And though her footprint has been different, she leaves a university that is much stronger and solidly positioned for the future. She, too, has won the respect and affection of the Salem State community, while reaching out to alumni; showing leadership on academic issues, including the move to university status; and handling some extraordinary crises, including the stabbing of a professor.
Not only has she continued to modernize campus facilities, she successfully launched and completed a $25 million fundraising campaign that will ensure a healthy endowment for the future.
In Salem and on the North Shore, however, it is not how she has operated within the academic community, but how she has interacted with the wider community that will seal her legacy here. Not everyone in Salem has been approving of the university’s growth, and there have certainly been some growing pains. But to her credit, Meservey has been a listener as well as a leader, and her sincerity, empathy and clear focus have helped to smooth some of the rougher passages.
When Salem neighbors opposed plans for Viking Hall, a striking glass dormitory on Loring Avenue, Meservey listened, and downsized plans for the building. When complaints arose about the university’s new parking garage, she tried and largely failed to appease the neighbors. But, despite vehement opposition, she refused to sugarcoat things; the university would continue to grow, she said, not so it could add more students, but so it could provide a better educational experience, with more students living on campus and using modernized facilities.
Honesty and an even keel count for a lot, but not if people don’t know you well enough to trust you. With Meservey, that was never an issue, because from the beginning she made it clear that she wanted to be part of the North Shore community and to use the university’s resources to make this a better place to live. So when state educators labeled Salem’s public schools “underperforming,” and gave the city three years to turn things around, Meservey was one of the first to step up to the plate.
Not only did the university provide academic assistance, but Meservey chaired an advisory board that helped to design the turnaround. Said Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll: “The commitment of university resources to our public schools has never been stronger.”
Read the Entire Salem News article here

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

End of an Era at Cherry Hill Industrial Park – Connolly makes way for new KROHNE Inc US Corporate Headquarters

December 2016 marks a significant milestone in the life of the Cherry Hill Industrial Park here in Beverly as we begin to make way for constructing the new US Corporate headquarters for KROHNE Inc.  KROHNE is a world leading manufacturer and supplier of solutions in the industrial process instrumentation field.  KROHNE is relocating their US headquarters to one of the last vacant sites on the Beverly side of the Industrial Park.  This move includes complete demolition of a 55,000sf office building that was built in the early 1990’s to make way for 93,000sf of new manufacturing and office space in two separate buildings on the 10 acre site.  This project is significant for a number of reasons – most interestingly this is the first of the original buildings built in the park to be demolished to make way for new construction.  The project is a telltale of today’s market trend – low supply of specialized manufacturing and office space in the area is driving customers to seek out dated buildings based on their location.  The cost to remove and build new is more efficient than major modification and addition to an existing dated building.  Stay tuned for more progress.

Read the Entire Article here