Saturday, February 20, 2016

Downtown Development Do Over?

Archipelago paid $4.6 million for the Carriage Shops

One of the downsides of taking too long to break ground on your controversial construction project is the rules could change, kind of like moving the goal line during the Superbowl half time show.

Take One East Pleasant Street for instance.  The "mixed use" five story 84-unit project was expected to mimic the success of nearby Kendrick Place:  Mostly high-end apartments with a ground floor dedicated to commercial and space for bicycles and zip cars.

Kendrick Place dominates/anchors the north end of downtown

But Town Meeting this spring will be discussing two zoning articles that could retroactively impact One East Pleasant:  A Planning Board article describing more precisely what constitutes a "mixed use" building i.e. possibly requiring more square footage be dedicated to commercial.

And Vince O'Connor's citizens petition aimed directly at developers Dave Williams and Kyle Wilson requiring mixed use buildings be subject to the town's "Inclusionary Zoning Bylaw" requiring 10% of the units be "affordable."

The Planning Board will hold public hearings on both warrant articles early next month but both of those hearings have to be advertised in a local newspaper two weeks in advance.  On that day of publication the zoning would apply to One East Pleasant if later passed by Town Meeting in May, unless the developers receive a building permit.

Simply starting demolition of the former Carriage Shops is not enough.

 Amherst Carriage Inn:  state of the art hotel/motel (for the 1960s)

The ambitious project was approved by the Planning Board in December, 2014 but a lawsuit brought by a disgruntled competitor delayed things until mid-August when Judge Richard Carey punted it out of his courtroom .

The Special Permit was then  granted on August 14 and had another 30 days before legally taking effect.

 Firm agreement to repaint history mural also needs to be in place befor a Building Permit issued

According to Building Commissioner Rob Morra the developers then have six months to (significantly) act on that Special Permit, meaning a drop-dead deadline of March 14.  And there are still details to work out over asbestos removal and the repainting of the history mural.

Development in Amherst is never, never, never easy.  And if some Town Meeting members had their way it would never, never, never happen. 


Anonymous said...

This is a terrific project that should go ahead as is. To add an affordable housing requirement would leave us with an abandoned building.

Anonymous said...

One more reason for Mayor/Council...

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that special permits expire 2 years after they are issued (10.37).
In any case, they can also be extended by the special permit granting authority

Anonymous said...

The Carriage Inn would be a great location

For a tax-paying MM dispensary.

Grow the crop at the cemetery,

Turn that worthless piece of tax-exempt property

Into cash cow for the City of Amherst.

Emily would love pushin up grass.

Hey man, ever read her poems?

Those are stoner lyrics!

Larry Kelley said...

Far out.

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, by today's standards, Miss Emily would be defined as "Mentally Ill."

To some extent, she probably was -- most of the great writers, poets, & authors were -- they definitely were people who lived outside the mainstream, people who often failed to meet the social norms of their culture.

Back then, the cultural norm for a woman was to become pregnant early & often, to cook 'n' clean for the husband whom she'd marred at the age of 16.

Just sayin....

Kevin said...

Town Meetings in Massachusetts are immune to conflict of interest, have no fiduciary duty, and are free to use thier elected position to influence a state-mandate board (Planning Board).

On the Town Meeting yahoogroup -- from Hilda Greenbaum:
"My file from 2012 just fell on the floor! So I had a chance to look again at the MASTER PLAN recommendations--that Amherst residents want to preserve Amherst like it is! Check it out. hbg"

How about "Let them eat cake.", Hilda? Where are people going to live? Work? Families are leaving town because people of modest means can't afford to live here. That's right, let's leave a stinking pile of rubble sitting there for a year, why not two? That's great thinking.

As my four-year old neice likes to say, "you have shit for brains".

Anonymous said...

Bring back Loose Goose!!!

But seriously the fact it is taking so long to get an agreement to repaint history mural is ridiculous. Maybe if Archipelago moved a bit quicker to secure Mural redo ground would have already been broken.

As it is now that space is turning into a hangout for the homeless, junkies et al with empty beer cans and liqueur bottles tossed all over that place. They should have that placed fenced off so no one can get in there.

Anonymous said...

I miss Amherst Music and Steve.

Anonymous said...

Takes one to know one, eh Ed?

Anonymous said...

what does significantly act on the permit mean?

Larry Kelley said...

Putting in a foundation.

Anonymous said...

Just wait till they stop paying taxes on the property. Then our good man Barry R will step forward, and put in a generous fraction of affordable units there.

Anonymous said...

Zoning laws are the rules of the game. Developers need to stop whining and follow the rules like we all do.

Scrooge McDuck said...

A disgusting display of anti-development sentiment. This is yet another examply why we need a new form of government. Lunatics can recruit 10 of their lunatic buddies and torpedo developments that have undergone a thorough public process. And town meeting approaching 2/3 lunatics so they may succeed.

Anonymous said...

McDuck--keep your focus on the here and now.The developer has to follow the zoning law that exists, not the future zoning laws that arene't real. Town meeting has passed several zoning changes allowing denser development. Be happy your next door neighbor can't build and 30 story building next door.

Anonymous said...

"Developers need to stop whining and follow the rules like we all do.'

Unless their name is Greenbaum. For a little entertainment, please see all the Special permits that have been issued to the Greenbaum family. So much for keeping Amherst exactly the way it is...