WOBURN - After yanking an unpopular renovation plan in April, the new owners of Everett Street's Woburn Printing property recently received permission to raze and rebuild the 2.5-story building by the downtown area.
During the City Council's latest meeting in City Hall, the aldermen voted unanimously in favor of granting a special permit to Everett Street Realty Trust to demolish the run-down printing shop and rebuild a mixed-use structure containing ground-floor office space topped by a pair of two-bedroom apartments.
According to Mark Salvati, representing four business partners from Stella Construction, his clients prepared the latest redevelopment concept after taking to heart criticisms of their previous plans to renovate the existing 3,300 square lot building in the business downtown (BD) district.
Several aldermen — and in particular Ward 2's Richard Gately — had this spring described the old printing shop as an eyesore that was not worth renovating. At the latest meeting, Gately was far more receptive to landlords' newest proposal, which included their use of the ground-level office space as their construction company's headquarters.
"I'm looking at your new plans, and I kind of like them," said the South End alderman, whose district includes the mixed-use neighborhood around Everett Street. "You did what I asked with that building in taking it down. I don't think you could have done what you wanted to do structurally, without that building falling down on top of you."
Set back a fair walk from Main Street and Woburn Center proper, the Everett Street property is oriented in the midst of a largely residential neighborhood that nonetheless sits within close proximity to public parking spaces in the Walnut Street lot.
As part of the proposal, the new site owners sought and obtained permission to count upon four parking spaces within the municipal lot to meet the parking requirements for the two-bedroom apartments. The petitioners do have access to an on-site driveway in the rear of the property, where the Stella Construction principals will be parking a handful of company pickup trucks.
Under the city's zoning regulations, downtown landlords are allowed to petition the City Council for approval of such satellite parking arrangements, which are permissible if the target property is situated within 500-feet of a municipal lot. In exchange for the special permit, developers are required to pay a one-time fee of $4,500 for each parking space being used to meet their parking demand.
As has been the case with all other Woburn Center developers who are counting on municipal parking for residential uses, the Woburn Printing site owners acknowledged they have no permanent rights to the spaces.
Though some aldermen have lately questioned whether the city should reexamine its satellite parking regs, Salvati insisted that his clients' proposal will in-effect create a reduced parking burden.
"We're asking the municipal lot be used for the four-spaces that would normally be required for this petition. What I'd like to say in regard to that end is keep in mind that we're replacing a building that used just as much, if not more, parking," he said.
"When you look at this type of development, they lend themselves to the municipal lot, because that's what [that parking area] was created for," the local lawyer furthered.
One area abutter did comment during the public hearing on the petition. The neighbor, who was worried about noise issues from the commercial use, later endorsed the petition after learning that none of the company's pickup trucks were equipped with backup alarms.
The council did attach a number of conditions to the special permit decision, including:
• The new building must be ADA accessible from Everett Street;
• The petitioner must replace the Everett Street sidewalk in front of the new building;
• No business-related parking will be allowed on Everett Street;
• No construction materials can be stored outside;
• A snow removal plan must be submitted to the building department;
• and the petitioner must utilize pest control services to prevent rodent activity near residential trash storage areas.