Several New Residential Developments In Tewksbury's Future
Apr 23, 2015 04:52PM ● Published by Bill Gilman
A map of the Tewksbury Town Center Overlay Distrikct, which encourages mixed-use projects.
Three local developers are counting on the answer to that question being "Yes."
At least five residential projects, including two major developments, are in the pipeline for construction over the next two years.
"I don't think that people build without a market in mind," said Tewksbury Director of Community Development Steve Sadwick. "For the Commonwealth, they are talking about a need for 10,000 housing units per year. So we know there is a demand."
The largest of the proposed projects is also the newest. Developer Marc Ginsburg met with town officials last week concerning his plans for a 192-unit project on Victor Drive, just off Route 38. According to Sadwick, the plans call for four 5-story structures of 48-units each, with parking on the first level of each structure.
According to Sadwick, Ginsburg's preliminary plans also call for a clubhouse and pool on a 32-acre parcel of land.
"As I understand it, there will be a half-mile walking trail and a quarter-acre dog park, as well," said Sadwick.
The parcel of land in question, located near the Wynn Middle School, has been the subject of speculation by residents for the past few years, since it began to be cleared. Sadwick said Ginsburg has been in steady communication with town officials over that period, keeping them informed of details and elements to the project as they were added.
Ginsburg also owns an adjacent parcel, at the corner of Victor Drive and Route 38. According to Sadwick, the developer has indicated his desire to add a commercial element to the overall project in that location.
Such a commercial element would fit nicely into the Mixed Use Town Center Overlay District, adopted by Tewksbury. Ginsburg is scheduled to make his first appearance before the Planning Board on May 18. The meeting is expected to be well attended by residents who have already taken to social media to express concerns about the project, including impact on schools, infrastructure and traffic.
Three more mixed-use projects in the works
According to Sadwick, Pondelli intends to build a 3,780 sq. ft., two-story structure on Main Street, with retail space on the first floor and condo units on the second floor. Behind that building, the developer intends to construct two residential structures, each with four townhouse condos.
Ginsburg is working on another project at 1438 Main Street, near Colonial Drive. According to Sadwick, the plan calls 18,530 sq. ft. of retail space in front and 12 detached homes in the rear.
A little further north along Route 38 is a project by developer John Sullivan that was recently approved by the Planning Board. Again, it will have retail space in the front and townhouses in the back.
"All three of these are being done under (the terms of) the overlay district," said Sadwick. "The overlay district sets some of the standards for the developers a little higher than that regular requirements."
Martel project raises neighbors' concernsWhile the three mixed-use projects described by Sadwick are all relatively small, it is the larger projects being proposed that have raised concerns among residents. This includes a project currently before the Planning Board called "The Residences at Joan's Farm." The project, proposed by developer Arnie Martel, calls for a four-story, 96-unit complex on a 9.8 parcel of land on Livingston Street adjacent to the East Street Farm.
While the land is presently zoned for such a project, Martel needs a special permit for a four-story building, as the present bylaws limit construction to two-and-a-half stories. A Planning Board hearing on his Special Permit application began on April 13 and is scheduled to continue at 7:20 p.m. at the April 27 meeting.
Residents have voiced objections to the project on the basis of the sheer size of the building proposed and the fact that it would significantly change the landscape of one of the few undeveloped sections of a town that had vast sections of farm land as recently as 50 years ago.
According to Sadwick, the State 40B law would require 15 percent of the apartments in a project like the one proposed by Martel to be "affordable housing." In this case, that would be 14 apartments.
However, if the project is approved, Martel plans to utilize the "payment in lieu of affordable units" option. Martel would pay $25,000 into the town's Affordable Housing Trust Fund for each "affordable unit" required. This would amount to a total payment of $350,000.