FRAMINGHAM – The Framingham Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved a proposal by Baystone Development for 210 apartments and a restaurant, yet to be named, for the empty plaza at the corner of Mt. Wayte Avenue and Franklin Street.
Voting for the variances, submitted by the developer, was Zoning chair Phil Ottaviani and members Steve Meltzer and Joe Norton.
The project now moves to the Conservation Commission and the Framingham Planning Board for approvals, before any construction could begin.
Developer Roy MacDowell Jr. first discussed his purchase and redevelopment plans with residents in the neighborhood earlier this spring.
MacDowell has said publicly he is under a deadline to finish the deal with Adams for the property, and has already placed a $250,000 deposit. He has said he can not wait in 2018 when Framingham becomes a city to submit the proposals.
Originally, MacDowell proposed 240 apartments only.
He later added the restaurant to the redevelopment project, on the request of the neighborhood; and then lowered the number of apartment to 210.
Originally, the proposal included 4-story apartments, but the complex will have one less 4-story building, as approved by the Zoning Board (ZBA) last night.
“Last night’s decision was bittersweet, especially for those of us who have lived near this eyesore for decades. As a lifelong Framingham resident, former Mt Wayte Plaza shopper, long time homeowner in the neighborhood, and as a Candidate for City Council for this district, I have closely followed this process and attended the meetings. The project itself isn’t what most people dreamed of, it’s not perfect, it’s too dense, it will affect traffic and our infrastructure, it will affect school enrollment as well, but it was also the only option under consideration and the only option in years,” said Cheryl Gordon.
“With the reduction in the number of units from the original 240 to 210 coupled with the height reduction for the building along Mt Wayte Ave we are certainly heading in the right direction,” said Dennis Giombetti, who is running for City Council in District 5, which includes the abutters to the plaza.
“The Mt Wayte plaza has plagued the surrounding neighborhoods and abutters for many years. While I am still concerned about the density of the proposed apartment complex, the amount of traffic, and the stress on our infrastructure that it will bring, I am pleased that the developer appears to be listening to the concerns of the surrounding residents. I hope that more earnest and fruitful negotiations can continue during the next phase with the Planning Board in order to make this a successful project for residents and Framingham,” said Robert Case, who is running for City Council in District 5.
“Mt Wayte Plaza is in shambles, it’s a sea of crumbling weed infested concrete, rusted and broken temporary fences, and is a fire hazard and danger to the neighborhood. I look forward to attending and participating in the upcoming Planning Board and Conservation Commission meetings as this project moves into it’s next phase of the process,” said Gordon.
“After several appearances before the board and after numerous meetings with the neighbors, the applicant reduced the height number of units, height of the structure, and added a restaurant to the project. Ideally more retail space and less apartments would have been more appealing to the neighborhood however the applicant testified that retail would not work on the site as evidenced by the years it remained vacant and the efforts that were made to fill the plaza,” said ZBA member Norton.
“I thank Mr McDowell for meeting and listening to us neighbors and revising his plans accordingly. We are going in the right direction but, as I said at the last meeting, I would still like to see a few more retail units added to the plan. I am not yet convinced that there is not an opportunity for limited retail in this project. I would ask that Mr. McDowell to further reach out to the town’s EDIC and Economic Development groups as well as to private groups to assess the fit for businesses that have expressed interest in locating to Framingham. Having additional viable businesses that benefit the neighborhood and tenants should be one of the focuses leading up to the Planning Board review process. To that end I would respectfully ask that once the ZBA is satisfied with the legal elements of this project that you grant the variances to move this project along to the next review process. I and many of my neighbors look forward to the further review, discussion on density related issues and further shaping of the overall project as part of the Planning Board permitting process,” said Giombetti.
It’s important to realize, that by the time this reaches the Planning Board, a new form of government will have been elected. It’s important for the community to get involved now, so that when the time comes, your concerns will be addressed,” said Lynch.
Voters will elect a mayor and an 11-member City Council on November 7. They will take office on January 1, when Framingham officially become a city.