Reading, MA — The Community Planning and Development Commission (CPDC) opened a public hearing on Monday, February 7, to consider a new 40R mixed-use development application at 459 Main Street. The property is on the corner of Main Street and Washington Street and currently is the site of 128 Tire. Speaking for the applicant GC Fodera, LLC, Attorney Jesse Schomer described a four-story, twelve-unit mixed-use residential and commercial building that would only be a six-minute walk from the commuter rail station.
Project Architect Jeffrey Olinger went into further detail, describing the 45-foot tall proposed building as one that “completes the corner.” Olinger continued, “The building seeks to create a continuous streetscape that marks the start of the Main Street commercial corridor.” The 21,864 square foot proposed building would house 1,671 square feet of retail space on the first floor with four one-bedroom units, seven two-bedroom units, and one three-bedroom unit on the upper three floors. There will be a 19-space parking garage on the first level as well. The upper floors are set back from the adjacent split 40R residential property to the east by 15 feet and is set back from the new Rise 475 building on its north by three and a half feet and, according to Olinger, conforms to the town’s design guidelines.
Olinger shared that the residential entrance to the building would be on the Washington Street side, with the retail space occupying the corner. Vehicles would enter the garage from Washington Street and exit onto Main Street. There will be room in the garage for a loading space as well. According to Olinger, the “victorian-style facade” of the upper floors will give a residential feel to the building for abutters.
CPDC member Nick Safina expressed concern over the entrance to the garage on Washington Street, given the constant traffic issues at the intersection of Washington Street and Main Street. “There is no way this is going to work,” Safina declared.
CPDC member John Weston also expressed doubt over the effectiveness of the retail location, given there is no parking nearby. “It’s going to be a dead storefront,” Weston suggested. CPDC member Heather Clish added that the wide garage exit onto Main Street would break up the continuity of the streetscape. Resident Nancy Twomey expressed concern over the garage structure being directly on the lot line and shared the possible that impact staring at a blank wall could have on the abutting neighbors. Weston concluded, “It is a great design for that corner, but I’m stuck at the functionality.” Safina also suggested the addition of an affordable unit into the building, which is not required due to the low number of units in the building.
The public hearing on the development was continued to March 14 at 7:30 pm.
CPDC voted 0-5, confirming that a proposed minor plan change for the development at 531 Main Street is not a minor change but is considered by the board to be a major change, which requires the developer to submit an application and requires the CPDC to hold a public hearing. Project architect Saverio Fulciniti had shared that after consultation with RMLD, the building no longer would need a transformer, thus allowing for an additional parking space in the garage, as well as giving the upper-floor corner units balconies. The change moves the corner of the building five feet closer to its abutter. The submitted plan also eliminated windows on the south-facing facade, which Safina suggested was also a major change to the appearance of the building. No date was set for a public hearing on the issue.
CPDC voted 5-0 to approve a new sign for Dunkin’ Donuts, reflecting new branding for the company. It also approved, by votes of 5-0, sign permits for Metro Credit Union at 470 Main Street and a signage plan for the Postmark building at 130-138 Haven Street.
CPDC voted 4-0 to approve a change of use for 175 Haven Street. The plan is for the former office building which will now be used for a new hair salon named “The Style Lounge.” Business owner Kara Sennott shared, “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and [owning my own business] has always been a dream of mine.”
After two hours of continued discussion, CPDC voted 5-0 to close the public hearing on amended bylaws for the 40R Downtown Smart Growth District. It also voted 5-0 to place the proposed amendments on the warrant for the April Town Meeting. The proposal will be subjected to one final review by Town Counsel prior to Town Meeting.
CPDC adjourned at 12:35 am.