CPDC Approves Amended Main Street Development

Downtown Smart Growth District Application Major Plan Change

459 Main Street Proposed Southwest Elevation

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READING, MA — On Monday, the Community Planning and Development Commission (CPDC) approved the major site plan modification submitted by G.C. Fodera Construction for a new mixed-use 40R development at 459 Main Street. The vote was 5-0. CPDC also voted 5-0 to approve the requested density waiver for the project and voted 5-0 to approve a requested guidelines waiver for the proposed development.

The site, currently occupied by 128 Tire, had been approved for a similar building in September of 2022. Still, at that time, CPDC denied the density waiver, limiting the proposed building to five residential units along with a commercial space. Fodera had initially submitted a plan for twenty units, which had been shifted down to twelve as a result of public input on the project. The current building will be demolished for the new development.


Fodera appealed the CPDC decision and recently reached a settlement in principle with the town. Attorney Jesse Schomer, speaking for Fodera, explained that the revised project would include ten residential two-bedroom condominium units and that the building, initially proposed for four stories, is now proposed for three. The previous roof deck has been eliminated, but the 1,300 square foot ground floor commercial space has been retained. The east-facing setback for the ground floor parking has been changed to thirty-seven and a half feet from the lot line, exposing most of the resident parking to the open. The parking area will have eighteen spaces to be used for retail, guest, and resident parking.

Schomer described the changes as “an amicable resolution to the matter.”

New project architect Eric Zackrison shared other changes to the exterior of the building, including a brick face on the ground level with brick face up the angled corner of the building to a peripet. The upper levels will have clapboard siding with what Zackrison described as “highly articulated windows.” Schomer continued, explaining that he believes the new facade will be “simplified a little bit and more consistent with the look and feel of the RISE building next door.”

Project engineer Guiseppi Fodera also shared that the building will include a high-speed garage door on Main Street to allow entrance to the parking area, and it will be heated using heat pump technology.

CPDC member Mark Wetzel questioned Fodera about plans regarding the corner sidewalk ramp at the corner of Main Street and Washington Street, such as issues with the bollards and the existing light post. He also asked for a window or plantings on the blank brick wall next to the garage door on Main Street. Fodera was open to the ideas.

Abutter Lisa Johnson expressed concerns regarding several issues that she believes still need to be addressed, specifically the actual location of the building at one of the busiest corners in town. She shared that in the previous process, members of the CPDC stated that the intersection was “fragile and failing.” She also questioned why the issue of non-residential vehicles, such as delivery trucks, has not been addressed. “Removing two units and little height will not help at all,” Johnson suggested. 

Johnson also inferred that the right-hand turn only out of the garage cannot be enforced. Though the project, with 42.6 units per acre of density, is similar to other projects approved by the CPDC in the 40R smart growth district, Johnson maintained that the location of this project makes it “very different” from the other eight smart growth district developments. Resident Cheryl Surette expressed similar concerns.

After receiving public comment, CPDC reviewed the decision document and voted on the project approvals.

MBTA Communities Update

Community Development Director Andrew MacNichol, in preparation for a public hearing on Monday, December 18, presented his proposal for the town to meet the state-mandated MBTA Communities zoning changes. He shared that a new 362-acre multi-family district would be created, most of which is two or three blocks from the downtown and is a twelve to fifteen-minute walk from the depot. The rezoned area represents only 5.7% of the town’s 6,393 acres and includes 789 parcels of land.

The proposed rezoning will also increase the land zoned for multi-family houses in town from 1% to 5% of the residentially zoned property in town. This will still leave 89% of the town zoned for single-family homes.

According to MacNichols, the rezoned area will include a 5,000 square foot minimum lot size, sixty feet of lot frontage, ten-foot front and side setbacks with a fifteen-foot rear setback. Lot coverage will be allowed up to 30%, increased from 25%. Twenty-two units per acre will be allowed, which would be three units for a 5000 square-foot lot.

MacNichols reported that the unit capacity for the rezoned area would be close to 5,000 units. He quickly continued to share that over the last ten years, only 1.9% of the homes in town have been redeveloped. At that rate, eighteen properties in the new area would be developed into eighty-nine new units over the next ten years. If property is developed at the rate of the 40R smart-growth district or 5%, forty-eight properties would be developed over ten years, producing 235 new units.

“None of this HAS to be built; it only has to be zoned for,” MacNichols reminded the Commission.

MacNichols concluded that the plan helps move Reading towards several goals, including establishing a strong public commitment to affordable housing, diversity in housing stock, and neighborhood preservation. 

CPDC member Tony D’Arezzo also pointed out, “[In the] district you are proposing, you are making more lots conforming [to zoning]. So even if people don’t take advantage of the multi-family [option], they don’t have to go to the ZBA whenever they want to put on a deck.”

After public input on the plans, they will be finalized by the CPDC and presented to Town Meeting for approval in April. After further discussion about promotion of the plans, CPDC adjourned at 10:50 pm.

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