Feedback on Harvard Mills design

Apr 17, 2019 by

Published April 17, 2019

By MARK SARDELLA

WAKEFIELD — The Zoning Board of Appeals last week held its second hearing on a proposal to convert and expand a former mill building at the corner of Albion and Foundry streets into a residential complex with 184 units.

The Harvard Mills complex currently consists of two buildings that house offices and research and development. The east building was recently purchased by the NRP Group, a developer, builder and management company based in Cleveland Ohio with an office in Burlington, Mass. NRP’s plans for the east building (the one that runs along Foundry Street) involve adding three levels for a total of six stories of residential apartments. The plan calls for 122 one-bedroom units and 62 two-bedroom units. NRP has also purchased the large parking garage between Foundry Street and the railroad tracks. The west building will remain an office building, owed by Taurus Real Estate of Boston.

Represented by attorney Brian McGrail, NRP representatives used a slide presentation at last week’s hearing to offer a first look at the proposed architecture from various angles.

Zoning board members wanted more detail on how the project will incorporate into Foundry Street. They wanted to know what could be done to improve the connectivity of the residential use and the garage in order to make the Foundry Street corridor look less cavernous and present a more welcoming pedestrian environment. ZBA members also expressed a desire to see more “character” along the building length facing Foundry Street. NRP reps said that they would work to incorporate the ZBA’s suggestions into an improved design.

Asked about the proposed look of the building interior, NRP reps described industrial type finishes, exposed brick and exposed beams in the original mill building floors. The upper levels will have a more modern look.

McGrail said that since the previous meeting, the development  team had met again with neighbors, who were given a tour of the interior of the building.

ZBA member Ami Wall wanted the developer to conduct a “balloon test” to help the board envision the actual height of the building. NRP reps agreed to work on how best to do the balloon test.

Wall also brought up the large number of multifamily residential complexes currently under development in town. She wondered at what point the supply would exceed the demand.

A Maple Street resident said that train commuters are parking on his street now, making things very congested. He noted that there are currently no signs telling people not to park there.

The hearing was continued to April 24, but McGrail said this week that he may request a continuance to a meeting in May.

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