CPDC Continues to Review Downtown Projects

40R – 18 Woburn Street

Reading, MA — The project engineer for the proposed new development at 18 Woburn Street, Giovanni Fodera,  presented evidence about the project’s proposed parking garage to the Community Planning and Development Commission (CPDC) on Monday. The project, a proposed three-story building, would house 2,427 square feet of retail space on the ground floor facing Woburn Street with six apartments spread over the two floors above.

Fodera shared renderings of the project to support the feasibility of entering and exiting the parking garage underneath the new building that would be available for residents. He also shared that the fire department had agreed that the entrance to the public right of way from Woburn Street into the abutting parking lot would be workable. “It is clearly an improvement over existing conditions,” Fodera suggested. The land on which the proposed building would be built is currently vacant. 

Project Architect John Seger also presented updated plans that provide for a second stairwell for building egress and the addition of a seven-foot overhang over the proposed rear deck that would be needed to accommodate the stairwell. “We have a really strong building that relates to Main Street,” Seger added.

CPDC member John Weston questioned the ADA compliance of the proposed new sidewalk on the eastern edge of the building and the alleyway on the building’s western edge. Resident Sarah Bruckilacchio also expressed concern over the proposed building’s 98% lot coverage.

CPDC continued the public hearing on the project to November 1 at 7:30 pm.

40R – 6-16 Chute Street

CPDC then opened a continued public hearing reviewing plans for a proposed new four-story development at 6-16 Chute Street, now rebranded as 45 High Street. The current building on the 17,986 square foot site, built in 1974, is a one-story commercial building that houses several businesses, including the Last Corner Restaurant, The Green Tomato, and a laundromat.

The proposed building would create two commercial spaces on the first floor facing High Street, with an enclosed parking garage on the first floor to be used by residents. The garage would be accessed via a Chute Street entrance. The upper three floors would house twelve two-bedroom apartments and twenty one-bedroom apartments. Twenty-five percent of the apartments would be designated as “affordable.” Entrances to the residential portion of the building would also be both on High Street as well as on Chute Street.

Architect Jeffrey Olinger described the proposed modern-looking “flat iron” style building as “largely conforming” to the 40R zoning regulation despite being a “substantially by-right” development. He highlighted changes to the exterior of the proposed building, which is now designed in a “sawtooth” look that should break up the massing of the building, especially on the Chute Street side. He noted the balconies on the rear of the building had been removed to accommodate the project’s abutters’ concerns.

CPDC member Nick Safina, while approving of the general design of the building, expressed his concerns regarding the density of the project, suggesting that apartments on the rear side of the building could be removed, creating even greater distance from abutters, a reduced need for parking, and thus, more space available for retail businesses.

CPDC member John Weston agreed with Safina about the need for more retail space and, while stating his approval of the overall look of the building, did share, “There is something that feels a little urban about it.” CPDC member Heather Clish questioned reducing the number of retail spaces from five to two in the new building. Olinger responded that the smaller retail space could be subdivided, if needed, to meet market demand.

Attorney Nick Parlitis, speaking for the owner of The Last Corner Restaurant, again expressed his opinion that the CPDC should deny the application of developer the Plimsoll Company until litigation regarding the current leases is concluded. “The existing use is successful,” Parlitis argued. 

Weston confirmed that, while Parlitis may be correct, the issue over current usage and lease-litigation is outside the purview of the CPDC. “How the current building functions does not matter  . . . when we consider a new proposal,” Weston shared. “The building owner wants to build a new building,” he continued.

CPDC continued the public hearing to November 1 at 8:30 pm.

Subdivision & Stormwater Permit – 103 Sanborn Lane

Attorney William Crowley presented updated plans from M.G. Hall Contracting to create a three-lot subdivision at 103 Sanborn Lane. The proposed new roadway has been reduced in width and length to allow the entire project to fall on the current property without encroaching on abutting properties. Each of the three lots on the property will be, at minimum, a conforming 20,000 square feet. The existing house and shed at 103 Sanborn Lane will be razed. There are no wetlands on the property, so the project will require CPDC to issue a stormwater permit.

Several abutters had drainage questions for project engineer Jack Sullivan and concern over the removal of trees. Sullivan will prepare a plan for tree removal to be submitted to CPDC. Questions regarding sidewalks on Sanborn Lane were also presented to the board. Weston answered that Sanborn Lane is private and that any issues should be raised with the homeowners. The public hearing was continued to December 13 at 7:30 pm.

CPDC adjourned at 11:10 pm.

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