By Bob Dorer
On January 6 the Planning Board held a Special Permit Amendment Application Public Hearing for an amended residential and office development at 100 Plank Street, under an Industrial Mixed Use special permit.
The parcel was once part of the now completed Village at Taylor Pond, 70 Taylor Pond Lane (accessed via the Middlesex Turnpike), project and is still covered under the overall Industrial Mixed Use special permit issued for the one 15.6 acre project that is now two separate entities. Greylock Bedford Real Estate now owns the four acre parcel that has yet to be developed as part of the original permit. Back in July of 2013 this portion of the project was granted an amendment to switch the then approved special permit to allow for the construction of only 6,000 square feet of office space and allow for 44 one and two bedroom apartments in two buildings.
Greylock is now requesting to amend the permit again to allow for the construction of 52 one bedroom only units in place of the approved 44 one and two bedroom units. The 6,000 square feet of office space would remain unchanged but instead of being in a separate building would be in the same building on the ground floor of the multi-story apartment building. The design is oriented to be complementary but not identical to the adjoining Village at Taylor Pond and the various road and walkway connections would be integrated into this site.
The Board expressed concern over the additional number of units and the possibility that the layout would allow for additional bedrooms to be created in the one bedroom layout, thus increasing the likelihood of children being an unanticipated part of the rental mix. The Greylock team insisted that they are marketing to working professionals who would want more attractive and spacious one bedroom layouts and who will hopefully have longer tenancies than typical rentals. The developers do not see families with children being part of their anticipated renters and committed to provide the Board with all the unique style of layouts planned for the units. Greylock acknowledged that renting the office space will be a challenge but they are committed to doing so, even if at below market rates. In response to a Board question, Board staff confirmed that the original Village at Taylor Pond had12 office units that had been approved for conversion to 12 residential rental units several years ago, bringing the overall number of apartments there from 188 to 200.
The Board raised concerns about parking and requested Greylock to approach the current owners of the Village at Taylor Pond to see if additional shared parking times can be negotiated. Board members also expressed concern that this project under consideration now represents 25 percent of the original fully envisioned mixed use project and thus is not an insignificant portion of the overall project. A Board member also requested that covered parking for bikes be added to the plan and wished that the proposed layout were more walkable and pedestrian friendly.
As Board members expressed differing opinions on the overall success or failure of the mixed use approach of this project, they highlighted that they hoped this was the last time an amendment would be requested for this special permit. It was moved, seconded, and approved to continue the hearing to February 2 to resolve the few outstanding issues prior to closing the hearing.