25 Haven Street
Reading, MA — Attorney Josh Latham, speaking for applicant Lima Walderi, shared plans with the Community Planning and Development Commission (CPDC) for significant changes to the proposed 40R development at 25 Haven Street, the site of the former Reading Municipal Light Department building, on Monday. CPDC reviewed the previous proposal on June 13. The previous plans proposed a 52,000-square-foot building, which has now been reduced to 30,000 square feet. Latham explained that the unit count had been reduced from 25 to 12, reducing the units per acre from just over 58 to just over 27. The 16 parking spaces will be in a partially covered, partially open parking lot.
The building’s first floor will host two retail spaces totaling 3,848 square feet. An 875-square-foot outdoor patio space adjacent to the building is also planned. Landscaping plans provide a public pathway on the east side of the property, creating a pedestrian link from Haven Street to Green Street. The proposed building will have a 16-foot setback on the east side with a ten-foot setback on the western lot line. “There is a lot more green space than proposed before,” Latham explained. Latham also noted that the new plans no longer propose preserving the historic art deco facade of the current building.
Architect Donnie Gerrity added that each of the 12 units will have private outdoor space and that the fourth floor is towards the back of the building, placing it in the middle of the site. His rendering suggested that the fourth floor would be barely visible from across Haven Street.
Reactions to the new proposal were generally positive from the members of CPDC, with member John Weston noting that almost every comment from the previous meeting had been incorporated into the new plans. CPDC member Tony D’Arezzo asked for a shadow study for the site to be completed but commented, “This is a wonderful project; I like it a lot.” CPDC chair Heather Clish added that “the scale suits the site.”
Historical Commission associate member Virginia Adams expressed personal disappointment that the new proposal does not retain the historic art deco facade. Historical Commission associate member Sarah Brukilacchio added a request that some recognition of the historic nature of the site be shown in the building. She also asked that some form of pocket park be considered for the green space in the site’s southeast corner.
CPDC continued the public hearing to December 12 at 7:30 pm. The development team will use this time to develop more complete plans for the site.
583 Main Street
CPDC voted 5-0 to approve the minor site plan review for the removal of the historic decorative parapet on the building at 581-591 Main Street. According to building owner Penny Flaherty, the current cement parapet is too heavy for the building and is crumbling. “We need to get the weight off the building as a safety concern,” Flaherty explained. “Delaying the project is a liability.”
The owners propose replacing the parapet with a flat red brick facade. Adams reported that the owners met with the Historic Commission but, after a productive meeting, rejected all the commission’s ideas, including the saving and storage of one of the cement urns so that future potential owners could restore them with different materials. Flaherty indicated that they are willing to save one of the urns but cannot store it. Clish suggested that the Historic Commission “ask around” regarding storage of the urn.
Weston and Clish both requested that the brick facade have some sort of design to break up the flat brick front, similar to buildings down the street. At first, the owners indicated that the cost of such a proposal was prohibitive but ultimately agreed to look into the idea, and CPDC added this as a condition for the approval.
48-54 Village Street
CPDC also voted 5-0 to approve a minor site plan review for 48-54 Village Street. Applicant Kevin Emery proposes demolition of the current four-family building on the site and replacing it with another four-family building with a smaller footprint. The new plans would bring the building into conformity with zoning, and the project had already been granted a special permit by the Zoning Board of Appeals. CPDC needed to approve the project due to the addition of 500 square feet to the building, all on the top floor. D’Arezzo noted, “It’s nice to know [a project of this type] can be done with a smaller density.”
CPDC met in executive session for over an hour to establish strategy about litigation that has been filed regarding their decision not to approve plans for development at 459 Main Street. CPDC voted 5-0 to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness for a sign at 77 Haven Street for Rocco’s Hair Salon. CPDC chose not to call the bond for completion of the Veterans Way subdivision as the project has made “significant progress” during the last month, according to Town Engineer Ryan Percival. The bond would be used if items such as the road or utility connections had not been completed.
CPDC adjourned at 11:30pm.