The Community Planning and Development Commission was given an extensive review of the architectural and engineering plans for the property at 136 Haven Street, formerly the Reading Post Office at their August 28 meeting. No action has been taken on the plan and the hearing was continued to September 11.
The proposed plans include the preservation of the building’s historic facade, curved stairways, and the existing flagpole. The remainder of the property would be converted into 6,600 square feet of commercial space and include a small commercial addition on the left side of the building as one looks at it from Haven Street. There will also be a four-story addition behind the original 1918 structure which will have fifty condominium-style residential units. Fifteen of these units will be one bedroom units and thirty-five will be two-bedroom units. Twenty percent of the units will be considered affordable housing according to 40R state guidelines. The plan calls for more parking spaces than are required by zoning bylaws through the use of an underground parking garage.
The original 40R mixed use development proposal for the property was made in February and since that time the developer Tom Connery and the architect David O’Sullivan, both Reading residents, have met with and received approval for their plans from the Massachusetts Historical Council and the Reading Historical Committee. The plans call for the new portion of the building to adhere to required zoning setbacks from the property’s boundaries and the upper floors will be stepped back as to minimize sightline impact of the structure from the street. The tallest part of the building will be over 140 feet from Haven Street and barely visible over the current building. A courtyard will be included on Sanborn Street to reduce visual impact and provide an entrance for the residential portion of the building.
“It is a perfect example of ‘smart’ growth.” commented Attorney Bradly Latham who represents the developer. The project will provide $225,000 in one-time fees to the town and is projected to add $450,000 tax revenue annually while only adding a minimal number of school-age children. Selectman John Halsey, who attended the meeting, commented that he hopes that this development will serve as a catalyst for other economic growth opportunities around town.
Members of the CPDC appeared enthusiastic about the project and the presentation. Questions were raised about how commercial deliveries would work and about a height restriction waiver that will be needed, though the height of the project is only five feet above what is allowed. The public hearing on the project was continued to the CPDC meeting on September 11. No residential abutters to the project attended the meeting.