NEW BEDFORD - City officials held a figurative groundbreaking at the future site of a boutique hotel at the corner of Union and Pleasant Streets in downtown New Bedford.

The current building at the site is undergoing a year-long, $10 million renovation managed by the Columbus Group, LLC, of Boston.

Anthony Sapienza, President of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, says the new hotel will further boost the arts and culture scene in the city. "And arts and culture are so important to this community. The Z, the Whaling Museum, the Art Museum. These are things that bring people to downtowns and play to the strength in terms of building a downtown that is really, seriously important to the entire Southcoast," said Sappienza.

Mayor Jon Mitchell says the addition to the downtown highlights the continued improvement of the city. "It really does mark the comeback of the city," said Mitchell. "This was the site of a really bad shooting, about twelve years ago now, that really shook up the city when the city was probably at its lowest point in many ways."

Once completed in 2018, the hotel will be managed by the Waterford Hotel Group, LLC, and will feature 68 rooms, a restaurant, and a banquet space. The hotel is expected to hire more than 50 people when fully staffed.