Centech developer wants to keep barn on Allen property

Photo by/Laura Hayes
The developer of Shrewsbury’s proposed Centech campus recently discussed preserving a barn on the old Allen property off Route 20.

By Laura Hayes, Contributing Writer

SHREWSBURY — The potential developers of the Centech Park North property may be able to preserve some of its historic features, including a barn and pond, they told the Shrewsbury Planning Board on June 3. 

Todd Morey, Vice President of the engineering firm Beals Associates, told the board that a descendent of the Allen Property reached out to him and provided historical information.

The Allen Property was farmland established in 1725 by the local Allen family. The Town of Shrewsbury then purchased the land in 2002. 

A developer, NorthBridge Partners, is proposing to build a campus on the Centech Park North site that includes two potential warehouses and an office building. 

Morey said they’ve committed to preserve a farm pond that was hand-dug some time in the 1920s and 1930s.

There are three buildings on the property, including a metal building, which Morey said will be demolished, and a barn, which Morey said the descendant’s grandfather restored and used to hold square dances and community events. 

Morey said his team could change some of their plans and save the barn. He suggested that the barn could be carved out from the parcel.

“It’s land that we don’t need,” he said. “We’ve talked since day one about how there’s tremendous opportunity to preserve open space and land on this site.” 

Planning Board members praised the idea, and one resident suggested that NorthBridge name a street in the development after the Allens.

“I like the fact that they’re probably going to save that barn. It does need some work, but I think it will be nice if that can be saved,” said member Joseph Thomas.

Developers announce slight changes to layout

The site is about 60 acres near the corner of Route 20 and South Street. 

Speaking June 3, Morey presented a slightly different layout, particularly to how the two warehouses are situated on the campus.

Under the change, the northern building would now be about 195,000 square feet with a new bump out along a loading dock. 

In addition to adding more office space for the tenants, Morey said the bump out will “completely” screen the trucks while they’re at the loading dock. 

“So, when a truck backs in here, it’s behind a building,” Morey said.

Additionally, NorthBridge wants to add parking on the west side of one of its buildings. With the potential of it being a multi-tenant building, Morey explained that some employees would have had to park on the eastern side of the building and walk to their western entrance. 

The most noticeable proposed change to the southern 102,000-square-foot warehouse is the location of the loading docks from the east side of the building to the west side. 

Resident Aaron Blank praised the new bump out on the northern building, but expressed concern about noise and light pollution from the site, including from trucks turning out of the loading dock.

“This project, bottom line, is going to have adverse effect on our quality of life and ultimately on our property values as well,” Blank said.

Morey said they would examine the difference in elevation between the building and nearby houses as well as the vegetation. 

NorthBridge’s plan will be back before the Planning Board on Thursday, June 17 at 7 p.m. That meeting will specifically discuss traffic and will be held in person.