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«Purpose of Analysis The Spag’s/Building 19 site on Route 9 in Shrewsbury was identified as a Priority Development Area in the recently completed ...»

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Town of Shrewsbury – Spag’s/Building 19 PDA Analysis

Purpose of Analysis

The Spag’s/Building 19 site on Route 9 in Shrewsbury was identified as a Priority Development Area in

the recently completed 495/MetroWest Development Compact project. Priority Development Areas

(PDAs) are areas within a town that have been identified as capable of supporting additional

development or as candidates for redevelopment. These are areas on which a town is focusing its

energy to promote thoughtful economic development that is closely tied to the community’s goals.

Following the completion of the 495/MetroWest Development Compact project and two subsequent similar prioritization projects, CMRPC was presented with a project request as a next phase of work from the Central Thirteen Prioritization Project, Blackstone Valley Prioritization Project, and the 495/MetroWest Development Compact. Utilizing planning funds from the District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA) Program, the request was to move forward with next steps on the identified Priority Development Areas (PDAs).

Using up to 25 hours of technical assistance, the objective of this project is to provide participating communities with a packet of information for a priority development area that can be used to guide them in identifying possible zoning changes, 43D application 1, grant applications (MassWorks 2), promotion to developers, template for future analysis of additional PDAs, etc. CMRPC staff worked with each participating community to ensure that the technical assistance provided was tailored to the town’s specific needs.

From the PDAs identified in Shrewsbury, the Town selected the former Spag’s/Building 19 site for a more comprehensive analysis.

1 http://www.mass.gov/hed/business/licensing/43d/ 2 http://www.mass.gov/hed/economic/eohed/pro/infrastructure/massworks/ Shrewsbury PDA Analysis August 2013 1 The goal is to compile a package of information on this site that can be used as a source of information and a reference for the Town to generate re-development interest. There are many development opportunities on this site, as well as challenges, and the intent is to use available technical assistance hours to parse through available information to provide not only some existing conditions data, but also to provide some ideas as to potential future development of the property.

Figure 1. Spag’s/Building 19 PDA (Labeled "3") Shrewsbury PDA Analysis August 2013 2 Study Area Former Spag’s Olde Schoolhouse building Former Spag’s Sports

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Figure 2. Spag’s/Building 19 study area selected sites - Google Earth image The study area is bounded by Harrington Avenue to the east, Olympia and Muzzy Avenues to the north, Lakeview Avenue to the west, and Route 9 to the south and is comprised of 16 parcels (See Figure 3 for specific parcels in the study area), totaling approximately 16 acres.

The study area has approximately 700 feet of frontage on Route 9 between Lakeview Avenue and the property line between the Building 19 main building site and the abutting CVS at the corner of Route 9 and Harrington Avenue.

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According to the Shrewsbury zoning bylaw, the Commercial-Business (CB) District is intended “to provide goods and services for transients or tourists and non-consumer goods and services.” 3 Various institutional services are allowed in the district, as well as a wide variety of business uses, such as retail stores, business or professional offices, banks, restaurants, automobile sales and service, research facilities, printing establishments, bowling alleys, and theatres.

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• Encourage a mix of commercial, residential, institutional and civic uses in a physical arrangement that is safe for vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic;

• Provide viable alternatives to conventional commercial sprawl, thereby assisting the Town in creating and maintaining a vibrant, walkable commercial area;

• Promote shared access and appropriate links to adjoining properties, thereby lessening the need for curb openings on Route 9.

The LOD is an overlay district that applies to a portion of the Commercial Business and Limited Business District along Route 9 and provides development options that do not exist in the underlying zoning districts. Specifically, the LOD allows Mixed-use Development, creating the opportunity for an integration of commercial and multi-family uses in a single structure or in multiple structures on the same lot. This includes a provision for live-and-work space, such as an artist’s residence and studio.

In order to encourage the type of Route 9 development envisioned by the town, the LOD prohibits certain uses seen as incompatible with the stated purposes, such as: single family dwellings, hospitals, gas stations, garage and repair shops, automobile salesrooms, and adult businesses.

Given the existing generous dimensional controls in the zoning bylaw and an expanded mix of allowed uses, there are significant redevelopment opportunities in the study area.

4 Shrewsbury Zoning Bylaw, Section VII. M.

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Figure 4. Lakeway Overlay District and the Study Area.

(The number 9 refers to the underlying Commercial Business Zoning District) Site History Spag's was, from 1934 to 2002, a discount department store and was considered an early pioneer of discount retailing. Anthony "Spag" Borgatti (1916–1996) opened Shrewsbury Battery and Tire Service in

1934. In 1939 the store expanded and the name was changed to Spag's Hardware Supply.

When Spag died in 1996, his daughters took over until 2002, when they sold it to Building 19.The location became Spag's 19, and in September 2004 Building 19 owner Jerry Ellis said the store was not profitable in its current format. Spag's merchandise and operations were converted to Building 19's format. October 3, 2004 was the last day of business for Spag's.

Spag's was originally one central building, later named "the warehouse" when the store opened the Spag's Sports Shop—featuring sports, hunting, and fishing equipment—and the Spag's Olde School House, which contained household tools and items such as pencils, nursing wear, and photography accessories. The Olde School House was closed for storage after being sold to Building 19 but was reopened for a short while in 2003, before being closed permanently. The Sports Shop closed in 2004

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The Board of Selectmen pursued a unique strategy for increasing the supply of affordable housing in Shrewsbury. In 2007, they invited developers to submit letters of interest to create a Local Initiative Project (LIP) 5 rental development like Avalon Shrewsbury. In exchange for receiving a preferred project designation, the selected applicant would agree to work with the Town on a “friendly” Chapter 40B application. Three developers filed letters of interest with the Town; one of the proposed projects was located in the study area. The plan included a mixed-use development including a multi-family rental community and commercial center to be located at the site. It covered approximately 9.7 acres and encompassed 30 individual parcels of land owned by five different owners, according to the preliminary plans (see Figures 5, 6, and 7). (Note: After extensive discussions, the Board of Selectmen chose one of the other submitted projects. Unfortunately, the (Request for Interest) RFI process occurred on the eve of the foreclosure crisis, and eventually the developer withdrew.) Reviewing the proposal for the study area is useful in that we can learn from the mix of uses, the overall project master plan, internal site circulation, and other elements. The overall mix of uses in the proposal included approximately 120,000 SF of retail space, 40,000 SF of office space, and 430 residential units.

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5 http://www.mass.gov/hed/community/40b-plan/local-initiative-program-lip.html 6 Planned Production of Mixed Income Housing, Submitted by a Joint Venture between: I.J. Barkan, Inc., Kimco Realty Corp, SREV LLC, June 13, 2007.

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Shrewsbury PDA Analysis August 2013 9 In May, 2013 it was announced that Building 19 would begin closing its Shrewsbury store. According to a recent article in the Worcester Business Journal 9, Bill Elovitz, President of Building 19, stated that most of the property that was once Spag’s, which totals approximately 14 acres, is available for sale or lease.

There has been some interest in the property, but Elovitz would like to sell all of the property together with the exception of some housing units. Of note in the article are some comments by Michael Jacobs, Principal at Worcester broker Glickman Kovago & Co. According to the article, Mr. Jacobs represents five national retailers and he has found that the biggest challenge for the property is that it has “limited Route 9 frontage, with most of the land sprawled out behind it.” Figure 8. Building 19 main building as seen from Route 9.

8 Ibid.

9 “Shrewsbury Looks for New Blood to Help Lift Route 9 Retail District”, Worcester Business Journal, June 10, 2013, page 9.

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A significant portion of the site is impervious with either pavement or roof top; most of the site has been used recently as parking for UMass Medical Center, which operated a shuttle connecting the site to their main campus in Worcester. Given this recent use of the site, perhaps there is an opportunity to partner with UMass Medical Center to redevelop a portion of the site.

10 Planned Production of Mixed Income Housing, Submitted by a Joint Venture between: I.J. Barkan, Inc., Kimco Realty Corp, SREV LLC, June 13, 2007.

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The development site currently receives water via connections from surrounding streets including Route 9 (Worcester Turnpike). A new water main extension was constructed in the Route 9 area in 2007 in order to provide better water pressure and flow to the Town. These improvements will provide adequate domestic and fire protection service to the project.

The current Town of Shrewsbury wastewater collection system in the project vicinity consists of gravity sewers that ultimately discharge via pump stations and force mains to the Westborough Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) located in Westborough, Massachusetts. Recognizing that the Town relies upon the Town of Westborough for wastewater treatment, and that Westborough has limited capacity, Shrewsbury has instituted a moratorium on sewer connections for certain new residential development (i.e., development that fronts on a roadway that does not contain sewer mains). This action was taken in order to reserve the remaining sewer capacity for new or expanded commercial and industrial uses. 11

Route 9

Route 9 is a regional shopping and employment destination, the majority of which is zoned for largescale retail and office uses. Commercial development defines the character along the majority of the highway, but medium-to-high-density residential development is also present in some locations. In the study area, Route 9 is a divided four-lane highway with additional turning lanes at the Harrington Avenue signalized intersection, and numerous curb cuts and access drives.

Traffic volumes recorded over the last ten years range from 29,000 to 55,500 vehicles per day along the Route 9 corridor. In Shrewsbury, the volumes reported are approximately 35,000 – 38,000 ADT (average daily traffic). 12 As a well established commercial corridor, this is a very visible and well located development site.

As we all know, traffic congestion is a byproduct of such a well-traveled route. Promoting and encouraging connections between parking lots will also keep some vehicles off Route 9 and create a safer environment by minimizing the number of curb cuts and access points. This can also help

encourage walking and bicycling as a means of travel in the Lakeway District which serves two purposes:

1) furthers the goal of a walkable commercial area; and 2) reduces the number of cars on Route 9.

Finally, access to public transit provides an alternative to people coming to work and/or shop as well as those who might live there if a residential component is part of the development. The Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) Route 15 bus provides hourly service between the WRTA hub at Union Station in Downtown Worcester and Shrewsbury Center and runs down Route 9 past the site.

UMass Medical Center is also part of Route 15, providing another alternative to a single-occupancy vehicle, and an amenity to offer the businesses and residents of a potential new development.

11 495/MetroWest Development Compact Plan, March 2012.

12 Route 9 East (Shrewsbury-Westborough) Corridor Profile, CMRPC in conjunction with the CMMPO, October 31, 2006 and MassDOT 2011 traffic counts.

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Kings Brook, a culverted brook and a town drainage easement, was constructed in 1995 and runs southerly and westerly through the site (see Figure 14). Similarly, a permanent sewer easement established in 1993, runs through the site as well. Both the drainage and sewer easements preclude construction of permanent structures and planting of trees, but non-permanent construction, such as parking lots, would be permitted. To the extent possible, it may be necessary to relocate the culvert and easement to accommodate a development proposal.

This site also presents numerous opportunities to improve stormwater management through the use of Low Impact Development techniques (LID). This site is nearly completely impervious; improvements can be made to mitigate quantity and quality of stormwater runoff, which will, in turn, prevent problems such as flooding and the collection and concentration of pollutants. Water conservation techniques can also reduce pressure on the wastewater treatment plant. By incorporating best management practices such as grassy swales, rain gardens/bioretention basins, porous pavement, and vegetated filter strips, a redevelopment project will be both attractive and sustainable. 13 13 Green Infrastructure Toolkit, 495 MetroWest Partnership.

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