Shrewsbury Selectmen reflect on written feedback on Beal project

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Shrewsbury Selectmen reflect on written feedback on Beal project
Members of the Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen listen to resident comments during last week’s Beal Reuse Public Hearing at Oak Middle School. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

SHREWSBURY –  The Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen has received at least 50 emails from residents sharing feedback on a proposed redevelopment of the former Maj. Howard W. Beal School since a public hearing on the project last week. 

That’s according to Board Chair John Samia, who said at a Board of Selectmen’s meeting on Tuesday that there were three themes in the feedback — the number of residential units, open space and parking. 

“We absolutely will take all of that under consideration as we move forward with this process,” Samia said. “It’s important feedback from the community, and we thank everyone for taking the time to do that.”

Developers are proposing a mixed-use project called Beal Commons.

The developers, Civico and Greenly, were the only developers who responded to Shrewsbury’s request for proposals to redevelop the old school.

They presented their vision to the selectmen in the spring and have since been in negotiations with Shrewsbury, which led to a public hearing Dec. 7.

Civico and Greenly is proposing an L-shaped building that would include 65 apartments and 8,000 square feet of retail space. The developers said the retail space could include a brewery, cafe or specialty market. 

Town staff have said that 12.5 percent of the residential units, or about eight units, would be affordable. 

The developers have said that there would be 142 parking spaces, with 20 marked for public parking. Additionally, there would be 11 parallel spots on Hascall Street next to the Beal property.

Shrewsbury Selectmen reflect on written feedback on Beal project
Developers presented renderings, Dec. 7, of their proposed mixed-use facility at the site of the old Beal school.

Civico and Greenly plan to maintain the World War I memorial in front of Beal. Additionally, they’ve proposed a 0.4-acre public park near the back of the property off Wesleyan Street. 

During last week’s public hearing, though, several residents expressed concern about losing open space. 

“Green space is something you’ll never get back,” said Richard Ricker. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone. We’ve learned that in various ways in this town over the years.”

Town staff said during the hearing that the project is estimated to add about $23 million in initial investment in Shrewsbury’s Town Center. The development is projected to generate annual revenue ranging between $150,000 to $200,000, which doesn’t include revenue from motor vehicle excise taxes or meals taxes from the restaurant or brewery that might operate in Beal Commons. 

Speaking at this more recent Board of Selectmen meeting this week, Samia thanked everyone who attended the public hearing and provided feedback. 

“We appreciate the feedback that we received from the community,” he said. “I think it was a very productive public hearing.”

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