Historical Commission hears plan for site once home to Suntaug Inn

Feb 17, 2021 by

Published February 17, 2021


LYNNFIELD — The Historical Commission was given an overview of the proposed Bali Hai apartment building during last week’s meeting.

The 160 Moulton Dr. property where the 23-unit apartment building will be located is included on the Historical Commission’s Demolition Delay list because it was once home to the Suntaug Inn.

“The property was originally home to the Suntaug Inn at the turn of the last century,” said developer David Palumbo. “We feel like we are returning it back to its original use.”

David recalled that he and his twin brother, Matthew, purchased the Bali Hai Restaurant just over two years ago. After the Zoning Board of Appeals denied the Palumbo brothers’ request for a Special Permit for the apartment building project in November 2018, they filed an appeal in the Land Court.

“As of December 2020, we got a favorable ruling from the Land Court judge to issue us a Special Permit to build a 23-unit apartment building on the Bali Hai property,” said David. “We are going through the zoning process right now. We were issued the Special Permit and we are going through Site Plan Approval as we speak. We are subject to the Demolition Delay Bylaw, which is why we are here. We would love the commission’s feedback and any suggestions for the property.”

Architect Dennis Greenwood of Sousa Design Architects gave an overview of the apartment building’s design as well the layout of the property. He said the apartment building will consist of 14 two-bedroom units and nine one-bedroom units.

“Eleven units will be on the first floor and 12 will be on the second floor,” said Greenwood.

Greenwood said the apartment building will include 72 parking spaces, 16 of which will be designated for people using Newhall Park.

“People will be using it during Little League games,” said Greenwood.

Greenwood said a large tree buffer will located around the development in order to provide screening to “minimize the impact to the neighbors.”

“We are going to have minimal lighting at the perimeter,” said Greenwood. “Everything is going to be Dark Sky compliant to make sure we are abiding by the bylaws.”

Greenwood said the two-story building will have a Second Empire Victorian-style design so that it will fit in with the surrounding neighborhoods.

“We worked really hard to do that,” said Greenwood. “It’s going to have a farmer’s porch in the front. We have been looking at contemporary interpretations of classic pieces of residential architecture in the neighborhood.”

Greenwood said the building will have gray asphalt shingles, clapboard siding and aluminum clad windows. He said the building will have Tuscan-style columns as well.

David said he and his brother do not want the development to be a “generic, big box type of apartment building that people see nowadays.”

“We put a lot of thought into designing this building,” said David. “We want to make sure it looks like a big house and it does fit in with the neighborhood.”

After Greenwood gave an overview of the building’s design, the development team answered a variety of questions from the Historical Commission.

Historical Commission member Steve Todisco inquired what will be the height of the building.

David said the building will be 26-feet high.

Todisco asked why the building will be located on the right side of the property instead of the center.

Greenwood said the development team considered constructing the building in the center of the property, but they decided against that because of land grade changes. He also said the development team wanted to preserve mature trees on the eastern and northern parts of the property.

In response to a question from Todisco, David said the units will not have any balconies and grills will be prohibited.

Historical Commission member Abby Kilgore asked if the building will have any common areas for tenants.

“There is not as of right now,” said developer Matthew Palumbo. “We are considering putting a gym in the basement for the tenants to use.”

David echoed his brother’s viewpoint.

“We think one of the main features of the building is the close access to the lake, ball field and tennis courts,” said David. “We think it will fit in nicely with the area.”

In response to a question from Kilgore, Matthew said there will be an employee sitting at a desk in the building’s front entrance during the day.

“An employee will be there to collect packages and deal with any tenant or maintenance issues during business hours,” said Matthew. “We live a mile away from the property, so we are in close proximity to it.”

Historical Commission Chairman Kirk Mansfield asked how “strict” will the Palumbo brothers be with ensuring the building’s aesthetics are maintained.

“We are going to be very strict about that,” said David. “My brother and I are hands-on managers and we manage properties full-time. We will have strict policies.”

Todisco asked the Palumbo brothers to send the commission a copy of the lease tenants will be signing.

David expressed his support for Todisco’s request.

Todisco also inquired if the Palumbo brothers would be interested in paying tribute to the Suntaug Inn inside the apartment building. He said The Ship Mall on Route 1 South honors The Ship Restaurant, which was torn down in August 2017.

“If you look at that project, there are some design cues from The Ship and some original pieces from The Ship are there,” said Todisco. “It doesn’t have to be something major. It could just be a subtle throwback to the site.”

Historical Commission member Roy Sorli noted that the commission has photos of the Suntaug Inn.

“We can provide pictures to you so you can make copies,” said Sorli.

Mansfield concurred with Todisco and Sorli’s viewpoints.

“The lobby of the building could have an enlarged picture of the old Suntaug Inn to tell the story of its history,” said Mansfield. “We are all about preserving history.”

David was open to the commission’s suggestions.

“That’s a nice idea,” said David. “We are not too familiar with the history of the town and we grew up here. We are open to adding something to this project that would recognize the property’s history. You have our word.”

Matthew agreed.

“If you send us some of the pictures, we will take a look at them and come up with something creative,” said Matthew.

Todisco expressed his support for the apartment building project.

“We are not going to miss the Bali Hai,” said Todsico. “I don’t know anyone who would. Beyond it being an eyesore, it had other issues too. I think it is going to be a nice change to the area.”

Historical Commission member Bob MacKendrick said the Bali Hai “used to have the best Chinese food around in its heyday.” 

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