By Keith Regan, Contributing Writer
Westborough – A new mixed-use building with 28 apartments and 3,700 square feet of retail space at 25 W. Main St. won final approval from the Board of Selectmen April 8, clearing the way for the project nearly three years after it was first proposed.
Selectmen approved a site plan for a new four-story building and 37 parking spaces on the property, where an existing building will be demolished, possibly as soon as next month.
Jack Thomas of 25 W. Main LLC, the developer of the project, said the architect on the project worked with photos in the Historical Commission's collection to replicate the original look and feel of the buildings.
“It's been a process,” Thomas said, noting that town meeting approved a zoning change to allow mixed-use buildings on the site, which formerly housed medical offices.
The new building will have retail space on the street side of the ground floor and four apartments in the rear. In all, there will be 18 one-bedroom and 10 two-bedroom apartments.
Selectman Denny Drewry expressed concern about the amount of parking on the project.
“We want to make sure there's room for people who want to use the shops,” he said.
The theory behind mixed-use projects is that spaces used by tenants at night are available during the day for patrons of the retail space, Thomas said. He also noted that a municipal lot is nearby, although he doesn’t anticipate having to use it.
“I wouldn’t have invested in this if it didn’t have the parking,” he said. “In the city you can get away without enough parking, but in the suburbs, tenants are going to expect a parking space.”
Thomas told the board he is in discussions with a local business to take the entire retail space. He said removing second-floor office space could also help other landlords downtown by helping to reduce the supply of vacant space.
Demolition work on the existing structure could begin as soon as next month, Thomas said, and the new building could be up and ready for occupancy in 10 months.
“Sooner is better than later for me,” said Thomas. “The building is vacant because I wanted to give my tenants plenty of time. Maybe I jumped the gun a little bit, but that's how quickly I’d like to go.”