By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Shrewsbury – Over the last several years, funding for special projects such as the Sherwood Middle School and a new library, as well as a hard-fought override battle, have been in the spotlight for the town. But with several major developments on the horizon, as well as a host of other projects, officials are hoping to position the town as a desirable location for companies to expand and relocate.
Lakeway Commons – One of the largest and most significant projects is “Lakeway Commons,” which is planned for the former Spag’s property, on busy Route 9 and near Lake Quinsigamond which borders Worcester.
Shrewsbury resident Anthony “Spag” Borgatti opened the store Shrewsbury Battery and Tire Service in 1934 at the site. In 1939, he expanded his operations there and renamed it Spag’s Hardware Supply. When Borgatti passed away in 1996, the store was run by his daughters until they sold it in 2002 to Building 19, a Hingham-based chain that sells railroad salvage and other closeout merchandise. After Building 19 declared bankruptcy in November 2013, the store remained empty except for a small antique business that leased out part of the main store.
Earlier this year, a Southborough-based company, Grossman Development Group, LLC, announced plans to pursue building a mixed-used development, dubbed “Lakeway Commons,” on the property. According to the group, the front of the complex would have large retail stores that faced into the village, rather than facing onto Route 9. A mix of residential units would be in the middle, featuring one- or two-bedroom residences and studio apartments. The back of the property would have townhouses.
Before any plans could start to be implemented, Town Meeting first needed to re-zone a portion of the property. Matters related to a mélange of deeds, easements and disconnects that substantially complicated the property’s zoning also had to be addressed. Those changes were approved at the April 29 Special Town Meeting.
The developer hopes to start the permitting process this fall, start construction on the project next spring and be complete by early 2016.
In early August, it was announced that Whole Foods Market planned to open a store at Lakeway Commons. That store is anticipated to open in mid-2016.
Chapter 40B is a state statute which enables local Zoning Boards of Appeals (ZBA) to approve affordable housing developments under state law rules if at least 25 percent of the units have long-term affordability restrictions.
Three 40B developments are now in planning stages in Shrewsbury:
Capital Group Properties, a Southborough-based developer, is proposing a development at the corner of Walnut Street and Route 9 that would have 160 units. To proceed, they must first go to the state to obtain a Site Eligibility Letter, and then appear before the town’s ZBA to request a comprehensive permit.
Local attorney Rod St. Pierre has proposed two other 40B projects. One would be 189 units off of Route 20 on the west side of Stony Hill Drive. The other project would be for 120-130 units on the eastside of Stony Hill Drive.
According to Kristen Las, the town’s principal planner/economic development coordinator, the town is currently now at 6.1 percent of the required 10 percent 40B mandate. To reach that 10 percent, the town needs an additional 540 units of affordable housing. The state mandates that 25 percent of a 40B development be affordable while the remaining 75 percent can be at market rate.
The town does have a Housing Production Plan (HPP) that was approved by the state Department of Housing and Community Development. An HHP allows a community to have a proactive strategy for planning and developing affordable housing. While the town must still work toward fulfilling the 40B mandate, the HHP allows a community to control the number of units that are developed each year.
Other projects –
Boston Lawnmower – The business has received approvals from the ZBA and will soon meet with the Planning Board to have plans approved for a new retail store and warehouse to be located at the corner of Walnut Street and Route 9 (the site of the former Shrewsbury Nursery). The company currently leases space in Westborough.
Boston Medical Products – The company is building a 50,000-square-foot building at 369 South St. It will be relocating from Westborough to Shrewsbury.
The Kenneth F. Burns Bridge replacement project – The Patrick Administration committed to replacing the original 100-year-old bridge which spans Lake Quinsigamond and connects Shrewsbury and Worcester via Route 9 after it was deemed to be not safe as part of its Accelerated Bridge Project. The project has met all its timelines thus far and is on schedule to be completed in the fall of 2015.
Casey Storage Solutions – The Auburn-based company is building a 200-unit self-storage facility at 757-789 Boston Turnpike.
Centech Park East – A maintenance facility and an auction facility are both in the construction stage for this site.
Centech Park North – The town is still actively marketing this site.
The former “Dairy Property” – An 8,000-square-foot medical office building to be built on this site at 235 Main St. has been approved by the Planning Board.
Irving A. Glavin Regional Center – This fall, the Shrewsbury Public Library will be undergoing a major renovation that is anticipated to cost $23.3 million and significantly revitalize and expand the current facility. As a result, it will be moving this fall into temporary headquarters in the childcare building located behind the former Glavin Center building.
The center, which was formerly a state mental health facility, was closed by the state last year. However, in 2012, Gov. Deval Patrick signed legislation that allowed Shrewsbury to lease part of the property for soccer fields and farmland for $1 each year for 25 years.
A town reuse committee and the state’s Department of Capital Asset Management have been also been evaluating the development potential of this property. Town officials anticipate filing a proposal with the state in January 2015.
The former Holiday Inn – There has been no movement yet at this site located near the intersection of Route 290 and Main Street.
Metso Automation USA Inc. – The company recently completed an expansion at 44 Bowditch Drive. According to its website, “Metso is a leading process performance provider, with customers in the mining, oil and gas, and aggregates industries.” The company employs 16,000 industry experts in 50 countries, with Shrewsbury being its headquarters.
The former Price Chopper store – Nearly four years ago, Price Chopper left its Route 9 and Maple Street location for a new one just down the road on the corner of Route 9 and South Street. Since that time there has been no redevelopment in the old location. A seasonal Halloween store will be in a portion of it starting in September.
Shrewsbury Montessori School – The school, located on Oak Street, is seeking to expand in its existing location.
The Grove – Spagtacular, LLC is proposing a mixed-use development, “The Grove,” at the site of the former Chelmsford Ginger Ale bottling warehouse on Maple Avenue. Possible uses include retail, offices and residential. The developer is requesting that Town Meeting approve zoning changes this fall that will allow them to pursue this project.
St. John’s High School – In June, the school tore down Flavin Hall in order to make way for a new 48,000-square-foot, three-story facility, “Founders Hall.” The new building will house the Performing/Visual Arts, World Languages, and a portion of the Social Studies departments. It is estimated to open in the fall of 2015.
White City Shopping Center – Once an amusement park, the plaza is now home to Shaw’s Supermarket, and many popular stores and restaurants. A number of notable changes were made in the plaza over the past several years, including a new traffic light and traffic lane from Route 9 into the plaza itself. The plaza has also been upgraded with new lights, flowering planters and repaving of the parking lots. Town officials are also hopeful a deal with a potential tenant for the vacant space that was formerly World’s Gym will soon be complete.