By Kim Siebert MacPhail
The Planning Board reacted favorably to a three-phase revitalization proposal for the Bedford Business Park, located at 4-18 Crosby Drive in the industrial mixed-use area near Middlesex Turnpike. The only obstacles to unalloyed endorsement centered, first, on the Board’s desire to see a larger shared outdoor commons for the multi-business complex and, second, on the possible addition of an eight-story expansion building envisioned for Phase Three that would allow tenants to “grow in place” rather than needing to relocate.
Robert Buckley, a real estate attorney from the Burlington office of Riemer and Braunstein—who also serves on the board of the Middlesex 3 Coalition for cooperative regional development—began the presentation for the Bedford Business Park by saying that the property’s redevelopment proposal fits in with the comprehensive plan for the area.
“What led us to file this [redevelopment] application [is that] over the last 4-5 years, the State has had the initiative to look at the Middlesex Turnpike/Route 3 corridor and [to spur revitalization of the area],” Buckley said. “The Middlesex 3 Coalition has focused on infrastructure and work force training. Developers and others who have an economic interest in the corridor have begun to ask, “What can we do to reposition our assets?”
“A lot of what’s going on in this [Middlesex 3] area is not new development; it’s re-development,” Buckley continued. “It’s no longer, ‘How much do I pay per square foot of real estate; [instead] it’s what are the amenities, what are the incentives, what is the quality of life that I can provide my employees?’
“In many respects, these companies are investing in their human capital. You’re trying to get people to locate here, to work here, to thrive here, and the work force is saying, ‘Why?’ and ‘What’s in it for me? Why do I want to be here?’ Bedford and these [other Middlesex 3] communities have a lot to offer,” Buckley added.
[For a background article about the Middlesex 3 Coalition, visit: https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2012/10/08/middlesex-3-coalition-seeks-development-of-regional-identity/ ]
Buckley went on to say that much of the current commercial real estate stock was built decades ago and is now “tired” and in need of rejuvenation. He then moved on to the plans specifically for the Bedford Business Park before turning over the presentation to Stephen Martorano of the Marlboro, MA, engineering and planning concern, BSC Group .
The current building on the site was constructed in the 1960’s, and the drainage, parking, landscaping and site layout all require updates. The placement of parking on the site doesn’t work now for all the tenant companies, according to Martorano, so the plan is to create a multi-tiered garage that will accommodate 480 cars. The current, single-level parking lots around the site allow for a maximum of only 200 spaces.
An outdoor commons area is also planned, with tables, fire pit, and recreation space, and will be adjacent to a relocated café inside the building. Landscaped walkways and high-canopy trees, flowering trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses are planned around the property, as is a rain garden to be situated in one corner of the site. The rain garden will serve to collect and filter run-off before it makes its way to the underground drainage system.
Caseylee Bastien, landscape architect for the BSG Group, called the vegetation plan for the site a way to “set up layers of vision” with a diverse selection of evergreens, oaks, dogwoods, Armstrong maples, inkberry, rhododendrons, St. John’s wort, hayscented ferns, and daylilies.
To concerns about the limited outdoor common-area space, Buckley and Martorano agreed to revisit how the green spaces were laid out in the schematic drawings. As for the potential for an eight-story building in Phase Three of the redevelopment, the design team said that the proposal was for “up to” eight stories, that the building would front on to Route 3 and that approval for that part of the plan was not required at this point. The Planning Board members said they would need time to carefully consider the height of the building, that eight stories was unusual for Bedford, but that aspects of the industrial mixed use bylaw—such as height allowances— merited re-examination in any case.
Planning Board member Sandra Hackman asked whether there is a new sense that the State House favors investing in public transportation, specifically to serve the Middlesex 3 corridor.
Buckley answered that he had met with Governor Patrick and the state’s Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey about the matter and that there is reason to hope that resources will be dedicated to a public transportation solution.
“I told [Governor Patrick], I’m tired of studies. Let see some action. Let’s try to do something and make it work,” Buckley said.