BURLINGTON - Five Below, a chain of specialty discount stores that sells products that cost up to $5, as well as a small assortment of products from $6 to $10, is seeking to reuse the former Outback Steakhouse space to accommodate its business in Burlington Crossroads at 34 Cambridge St.
The discount retailer recently went in front of the Planning Board with a site plan application that, if approved, would situate the business between Marshalls and AAA in the former Outback space that has been vacant since 2015.
Five Below currently has close to 1,000 stores throughout the United States, with the closest locations to Burlington in Saugus and Danvers.
Some of the improvements entail enhancing the front facade of the building and its doors and windows, constructing a 1,000 square-foot addition off the rear of the tenant space for ancillary storage and office uses, and parking space adjustments. The front facade is proposed to “fit in” more with the balanced, contemporary signage of stores seen in Burlington now, which means the Australian-style gable facade of Outback would be no more.
Local attorney Mark Vaughan, of Riemer & Braunstein, representing Five Below, revealed this retail store will bring the parking requirement of the lot into compliance, as it was designated as non-conforming with any restaurant entity that hoped to move into that space, including the recently failed venture by Burlington Beer Works, who earned approval to occupy the same site but never even started the construction process. This past December, Beer Works gave their liquor license back to the town.
The primary concern of the planners revolved around the 1,000 square-foot bump-out addition in the rear of the building. This structure will be continuous with the existing building, but is expected to eliminate five or six employee parking spaces. This addition is strictly for storage and employee lockers, not for any retail use.
Planning Board member William Gaffney questioned the need for such an addition, especially when it will dispose of at least five employee parking spaces. Vaughan stated there is still a “significant” area for employee parking back there. Typically, Five Below has only two or three employees working on a shift.
This Five Below business will be smaller than the company’s typical structures. Rather than 8,500 to 9,000 square-feet, the Burlington location is expected to be 8,200 square-feet.
Residential abutters behind the property have been working with EDENS, Burlington Crossroads owner, and Five Below to ensure the amount of noise from this use isn’t a detriment to the neighborhood.
There is an “agreement” in place between EDENS and the abutters that will monitor dumpster pick-up times and the installation of acoustic sound absorbing materials to reduce any noises bouncing off the elevated front facade sign, which is expected to be 3-ft. higher than it is now.
Five Below confirmed they have studied the sound reverberations with the proposal and found that the additional sound will be equal to a “normal conversation” at 54-decibels. Regardless, Five Below stressed they will “look into it” to make sure all variables are being tended to.
“EDENS is committed to ensure things are handled properly,” declared Attorney Vaughan.
Abutter Jack Kelly expressed that he wants nothing more for the former Outback space than to see it occupied, but not at the expense of lessening the quality of life for nearby residents.
“I want [Five Below] to move in and be successful, but I want them to be considerate of their residential neighbors,” professed Kelly.
With Planning Board Chair Barbara L’Heuruex and member Mike Espejo absent from the meeting, the board voted to continue the matter to its next meeting on Jan. 21.