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.