Our roundup of the latest Natick, Mass., business news:
St. Patrick’s transformation moves forward
Local developer Stonegate bought the property that once housed the St. Patrick’s School at 45 East Central St., in Natick back in 2015 and has been working toward converting it into a mixed-use retail and residential development since. The pandemic and other factors have dragged things out longer than wanted, but a well coordinated and well received presentation from Stonegate at the Dec. 13 Zoning Board of Appeals meeting showed how far plans have progressed. The Stonegate team is seeking a comprehensive permit.
Stonegate in February of 2018 reached a friendly 40B development agreement with the town, via the Select Board, according to real estate attorney Jim Hanrahan. Meetings since then with neighbors and town offices have helped Stonegate to further refine the project.
The well-vetted project before the ZBA was explained by a cast of team members, including those with expertise in landscaping, architecture, civil engineering, and stormwater. We heard about “materiality,” “integrated streetscape,” building “expression,” “vernacular architecture,” ingress and egress, “contextually sensitive design,” and of course, “sustainability” and native species that will provide seasonal interest. Brick, would, and metal would be among the materials used to accomplish much of this.
Stonegate Chief Operating Officer Dean Calivas, who ticked off past projects such as 13 West Central St. (former American Legion) and 11 South Main St. (Odd Fellows building), says the St. Patrick’s project goals reman similar to what they originally were. This includes a mixed-use development including market rate (i.e., expensive) and affordable (i.e., less expensive) residential units, plus space on the first floor for up to four retail tenants.
The pandemic delayed efforts to get Town Meeting approval for zoning changes from spring until fall of 2020. Attorney General and state Housing and Community Development approvals came through earlier this year.
The main 4-story building will feature 46 1-3-bedroom units and underground parking. Another eight units with 3 or 4 bedrooms will be divvied among four townhouse buildings. A quarter of the units will be affordable based on a state formula. Overall, the residential and retail space will amount to 14,320 sq. ft.
Discussion with the ZBA will continue in late January following some peer review of traffic and other plans. Stonegate’s Calivas asked if some meetings could be combined, say traffic and stormwater review, to help move this long-running project along, and the ZBA was amenable.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, and we took a big one tonight,” said ZBA Chair David Jackowitz in concluding the meeting.
Once around The Block
Keep up on The Block, the development at 1 South Main St., in Natick Center that will stand on the site where a fire burned down businesses in the summer of 2019.
According to The Block, this “innovative project will host a rotating mix of dynamic local art and retail, emerging brands, food and drink, when it makes its debut.”
The 5,342 sq. ft. development is envisioned as consisting of modular 500 sq. ft. pop-up spaces for artists and other small business owners, with a courtyard nestled inside. Construction was expected to start this year, but it’s unclear when it will really get going and eventually be ready to open.
Earlier plans for the site involved mixed use for residential and business tenants, but parking requirements put the kibosh on that.
At a Dec. 9 Design Review Board meeting developer Stuart Rothman unveiled plans for rooftop dining at the site. According to a Metrowest Daily News story on the meeting, Board members liked the idea though had questions about the materials that would be used.
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