BURLINGTON – YU 66 Corporation, property owner at 1 Wheeler Road, earned approval from the Planning Board regarding a restoration project for the property that sits along Middlesex Turnpike.
The planners voted 5-0 in favor of the site plan proposal at its last meeting of 2019. Member William Gaffney was absent and member Brenda Rappaport was not included in the vote because she was not on the board when the proposal originally opened.
The site plan will reinvent 1 Wheeler Road, which is the large green building that currently houses Ski Haus and GOLFTEC Burlington while running along Middlesex Turnpike. Tweeter used to occupy a portion of the space since its creation in 1991.
Local attorney Thomas F. Murphy, Jr., of Shea, Murphy, & Gulde, representing YU 66 Corporation, detailed the applicant will raze the existing 20,000 square-ft. building and construct a new 22,000 square-ft. commercial building.
“The upgrade will be more efficient and aesthetically appealing,” Murphy stated. “It will allow the property to be more competitive in the current rental market.”
Though the proposed building would be a 200,000 square-ft. enhancement, Murphy assured the new structure will fit better on the site and use the contour and grade of the site in a more effective manner than the existing building. The renewed 1 Wheeler Road will be 2-levels and is expected to house eight tenants. The plan is reflective of the feedback from the Planning Board and Conservation Commission, among other town government entities.
The applicant sees the 1 Wheeler Road property as a gateway landmark for drivers coming from Arlington and Lexington into Burlington.
“This is a gateway area for those coming from Arlington and Lexington, down Middlesex Turnpike,” declared Murphy. “[YU 66 Corporation] is at the point where they feel they have to reinvest in the site and bring it up aesthetically to adequately compete and contend in the retail market.”
In a recent meeting with the Zoning Board of Appeals, the applicant received two variances. One was for a building height variance and the other permitted a reduction in the landscaped/natural state to 31 percent of the lot area. The proposed site plan adds drainage and treatment to run-off the site.
“The applicant has been a commercial resident of [Burlington] for about 30 years and he looks forward to reinvesting in his site so that he can continue to be a commercial resident, going forward,” voiced Murphy. “He feels this will be a good project for the town as the site is a gateway property to the Middlesex Turnpike corridor and this will significantly improve the aesthetic, the flow and the visibility of the site, as well as add treatment of water run-off to an environmentally sensitive area.”
Planning Director Kristin Kassner called 1 Wheeler Road “ripe for redevelopment” and she referenced all the commercial modernization that has taken place along Middlesex Turnpike in the last eight years.
“The applicant wants to keep up with all the redevelopment and improvements that have happened in that area, along Middlesex Turnpike,” stated Kassner. “We are comfortable with the layout.”
The ratified plan contains improved landscaping with new plantings and shrubbery around the site, complementing the new draining system.
Kassner conditioned the applicant to ensure the eight tenants eventually occupying the building will be more “balanced” and not consist of primarily food establishments, citing traffic concerns at lunch-hour, if that scenario ever came to fruition.
The planners reiterated their hope to see the applicant pursue a variance for a sidewalk and crosswalk to be installed along the site’s frontage and corner locations. The applicant is expected to apply for the variance through the appropriate state channels, as Middlesex Turnpike falls under the purview of the Commonwealth.
If it is feasible, the applicant is also going to reach out to tenants about possibly installing solar panels on the roof. However, there will be numerous HVAC systems atop the building for the eight tenants.
The planners were firmly in favor of the proposal.
“I know it has been a difficult site since I have been in town,” remarked Planning Board member Ernest Covino. “I cannot count on both hands the number of businesses that have been in and out of there, which I assume was because of visibility issues, but it looks like you are going be increasing visibility. If the visibility improvements help, I believe the site will flourish.”
The planners voted 5-0 in favor of the site plan application. Construction on the revitalization project will begin in the early stages of 2020.