There are few details, no businesses identified and the timeline is still uncertain, but the owner of the Mount Wayte Plaza showed Thursday night very early conceptual drawings of what he foresees the mostly-empty plaza could look like in the future.
Waterman Design Associates Senior Project Manager Michael Dryden, in making the presentation to the Framingham Planning Board, said the gas station building would be torn down along with the former Fotomat booth.
The facelifted vision of the plaza would include more than 20,000 square feet of new office space and more than 11,000 square feet of retail space.
Plaza owner Sam Adams said ideally, he would love to start construction in the spring of 2013. Construction would be a minimum of 12 to 24 months, Dryden and Adams said after the meeting, if not longer.
Before construction could begin, formal plans would need to be submitted and the Town of Framingham would have to permit the proposal.
Dryden and Adams said they would need about 6 to 8 weeks to get everything together to submit to the Town of Framingham. They estimated they could make a formal submission in mid to late February.
As a Board and as as a Town we want to get this done sooner rather than later, said Planning Board Chair Tom Mahoney. "Sure there will be bumps in the road (referring to the permit process), but we want you to know we are going to get this done as soon as possible."
While the vision for the plaza is still in the conceptual phase, Planning Board members, Town Meeting members and Selectman Dennis Giombetti, were all happy to see the owner had a vision and was moving forward with it.
"I'm really, really, really, really glad to see you want to do some," said Planning Board member Andrea Carr-Evans.
"I think you guys should start tomorrow," joked Planning Board member Stephanie Mercandetti, who said she used to walk to that plaza often when it had a Price Chopper supermarket.
Mercandetti inquired about green features for the project.
Adams said they were considering solar panels on the roofs and charging stations, as part of a plan.
Carr-Evans asked if the plans include any drive-thru businesses. Adams said no.
Presently, the plaza has three tenants - a Dunkin Donuts, St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop and a barber shop. None of them are drive-thru.
Next door, there is a TD Bank with a drive thru, a convenience store and a liquor store. In front of the plaza is the 400 Restaurant, which would still exist in its current location, with this conceptual plan.
"Like my colleagues I'm excited about the potential here," said Mahoney. "Long ago, this plaza was identified as a top priority."
Mahoney said he had hoped to see a plan that utilized Farm Pond, perhaps with high-rise residential buildings.
The owner said the railroad tracks are located between the plaza and Farm Pond and at this time, he had no plans for any residences, as the economics of it didn't make any sense.
"Look forward to working with you and getting this done," said Mahoney, who said he can't wait to see the old, tired site get rejuvenated.
Town Meeting member Betty Muto, of Precinct 12, while thrilled the owner had a vision for the plaza reminded him that it would be located in a neighborhood and that he should consider the neighborhood.
She push Dryden and Adams on more specifics, including what type of stores, but no answers were forthcoming last night.
Mahoney suggested a neighborhood meeting be held for input.
Town Meeting member George Lewis, of Precinct 18, also expressed a disappointment that the conceptual vision did not include Farm Pond.
"I commend Sam for coming forward with this project and sizable investment in the community," said Selectman Dennis Giombetti, who has been very vocal about the near-empty plaza located at the corner of Franklin Street and Mt. Wayte.
Giombetti said he was really thrilled to see this "step forward." and happy to hear "Sam is investing dollars in the community."
Town Meeting member Dave Hutchinson, of Precinct 12, who lives within minutes of the plaza told the owner "please do not forget the people in the neighborhood."
He said many have waited and waited and waited for something to be done with the plaza.
"We are thrilled to say the least," he said after seeing the conceptual drawings.
After the meeting, Dryden and Adams said the plaza is not big enough to host a large grocery store, but that they were considering a specialty supermarket as a possible tenant. They said the concept did not identify a specific number of retail businesses and that no specific tenants had been identified. They did mention the plaza would have some food/drink tenant(s) that could appeal to the neighborhod as well as the employees of the proposed two-story office space.
Dryden, who worked on the new plaza in Northborough, admitted his conceptual drawings for Mount Wayte Plaza did look similar to that plaza, but on a smaller scale, due to the footprint of the plaza in Framingham.
They expressed interest in holding a meeting for the neighborhood.
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