SHREWSBURY – After the Planning Board approved plans for the Beal Commons project at the site of the former Beal school earlier this month, Town Manager Kevin Mizikar said he was pleased with the decision.
“We’ve put a lot of effort into developing a project plan with the community,” Mizikar told the Community Advocate. “I was definitely pleased to see that result and for the opportunity for the project to move forward and get developed.”
Although the Planning Board approved the project, the vote was not unanimous. Planning Board member Timothy Jarry voted against the proposal.
Mizikar did not seem surprised by the lack of consensus.
“I certainly respect all Planning Board members’ perspectives on it. I wasn’t surprised – I knew that this was one of the more talked about projects in town and certainly [there are] some changes coming to the town center associated with it. I respect the planning board members’ individual decisions,” he said.
After the Planning Board’s approval, the developer has the go-ahead to start to develop a financing plan and secure the funding to develop the project. From there, the town permitting process begins. Developers would need permits to demolish the existing Maj. Howard W. Beal School building and for additional site work throughout the project.
Civico Greenly has also started to look for tenants for the project’s 7,000 square feet of retail space. Mizikar predicted that the group would be able to make more progress finding a tenant with the Planning Board’s approval.
“They will be able to move more succinctly forward with trying to get individual tenants for the retail spaces since they have the project approval,” he said.
The Planning Board’s decision could also be appealed.
“Certainly, with every project like this, there’s a 20-day appeal period once the decision is filed,” Mizikar said. “There’s always a potential for appeal on a project that goes through the Planning Board process.”
Mizikar predicted that at this time the town is likely at least 24 months away from the building’s retail space opening. The potential opening date could be extended depending on how long the developer takes to gather financing and permits.