Our roundup of the latest Natick, Mass., business news:
Self-storage gets so dramatic
Efforts to open the Cypress Tree recreational marijuana shop at Cloverleaf Mall on Speen Street have been in limbo while the property owner has sought Natick Planning Board’s approval for a special permit amendment that would allow an adjacent self-storage facility to open in the former fitness business space.
During a sometimes contentious Jan. 5 Planning Board meeting (56 minutes into the Natick Pegasus recording), the Board voted 3-2 vote in favor of the amendment, but that wasn’t enough votes for approval.
Project developer Joshua Katzen called out members of the board during the meeting for overreaching due to their dislike of using the space for self-storage, seen as a less-than-engaging use of the property that sits alongside retailers such as the Aldi grocery store, Guitar Center, and Total Wine & More. Board Chair Julian Munnich called the proposed use “not what the zoning has envisioned,” and board member Terry Evans explained her reservations about allowing a change in use in light of the board’s “responsibility to some of the most valuable real estate we have in Natick.”
Katzen referred to his application as being “a very, very minor site plan modification” that involved changing some parking and in the end adding landscaping in response to board concerns.
“I must say I find it outrageous that you would take this opportunity to try to control a dually authorized use by another town board [Zoning Board of Appeals] when your only authority and your only competence is to decide if the site plan works…” Katzen said.
Board member Andy Meyer who voted in favor of the motion, expressed his frustration over the entire process, at one point saying he was getting “kind of sick to my stomach” that the proposal might get thrown out over use issues. Self-storage might actually be beneficial to people moving and and out of Natick, said Meyer, who touted Katzen as a developer and taxpayer with a strong track record in town who deserved better.
The Planning Board picked up the issue at its Jan. 19 meeting (26 minutes into the Natick Pegasus recording), where it was expected to craft its decision based on the results of the previous hearing on the matter. But Amanda Loomis, director of community & economic development, revealed that the applicant “at a late hour” had made a request to “withdraw the application without prejudice.”
Without the applicant in attendance, discussion then ensued about what the intention of the withdrawal might have been. It was was pointed out that were the board to confirm its decision from the previous week that the applicant couldn’t return with the project for two years.
The board wound up continuing the hearing to its Feb. 2 meeting, where the applicant will have a chance to explain the purpose and intent of its proposed withdrawal (in writing or in person). A motion to reconsider the original vote could take place.
21 Summer St. reimagined
Stonegate Group’s vision for redeveloping the building at 21 Summer St. in downtown Natick that formerly housed The Kells brewery (across from TCAN has started to take shape. There’s no indication yet whether anything as fun as The Kells might occupy the space, but plans are to have 5,000 sq. ft. of retail on the bottom floor. Parking will be below, and 1 and 2 bedroom apartments will be contained in three stories above.
The MetroWest Daily News reported on the recent joint meeting of the Natick Historical Commission and Design Review Board that discussed the proposal.
Calliope kickstarting its big move
Stationery-plus shop Calliope, squeezed into 250 sq. ft. for the past 5 years at 1 North Main St., is plotting its big move in March to a space at 29 Main St. that’s almost five times the size.
In order to make the move, Calliope is seeking financial support in the form of a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Owner Kristina Burkey originally aimed to raise $20K, and supporters helped her blow through that…so now she’s shooting for $40K or $50K. Why not?
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