ZBA Approves Salvation Army Redevelopment Unanimously

The City has cleared a hurdle in its efforts to redevelop the former Salvation Army building at 440 Broadway.

Tuesday night, March 10, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved a series of special permits and variances allowing the City to put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the mixed-used development of the site.

The RFP will call for the construction of a five-story, 16 residential unit building with 2,400 square feet of commercial space on the first floor and eight parking spaces. 

The residential units will be two-bedroom units of 600 to 800 square feet, with an emphasis on an affordable housing component, according to Assistant City Planner Alex Train.

“Following this meeting, we will proceed with community engagement and outreach,” said Train. After that, the City will finalize the RFP and evaluation criteria before putting the project out for bid.

City Manager Thomas Ambrosino will then choose a recommendation committee, which will make a final recommendation on the proposals to the City Council.

“The existing building, given its condition, is not able to be reused,” said Train. “Thus, the City chose to redevelop it.”

The parking will be on the Cherry Street side of the site, with no access on Broadway as a way to minimize the traffic impact on Broadway, Train said.

With the commercial component, Train said the City is attempting to find a proposal that encourages a use that is beneficial to the community. With housing, he said the City is encouraging affordable and mixed-use housing. 

From a design perspective, plans that show architecture consistent with the surrounding historical buildings.

“Ultimately, we hope to solicit a number of viable proposals and start scoring them on the evaluation criteria,” said Train.

More weight will be given to proposals that include home ownership opportunities, he said.

“Ultimately, the City envisions this as a catalyst for additional housing development in the City,” Train said.

ZBA members did raise several questions about parking and the height of the building. Member Hugh Perdomo asked what the protocol would be for allocating the eight parking spots.

Train said the spots would likely be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis, adding that the development would follow the City’s restriction on projects seeking parking relief being eligible for on-street parking stickers.

ZBA member Marilyn Vega-Torres asked if there was any way the project could be made smaller than the proposed five floors, adding it would be taller than surrounding buildings.

Planning Director John DePriest said squeezing 16 units and commercial space into four floors would mean the building would have to expand to the rear toward Cherry Street. Train added it would be hard for the project to be economically feasible with fewer than 16 units.

DePriest also said that any significant changes to the shape of the development would have to come back before the ZBA for approvals.

The ZBA unanimously approved the project.

“It’s great to be including the community with an opportunity to weigh in,” said ZBA Chair Janice Tatarka.

•In other business, the ZBA heard from Steven Piazza, who is seeking to construct a 12,000-square-foot wholesale food warehouse on an empty lot at 45 Market St.

The ZBA and DePriest raised questions about parking and traffic associated with the project, as well as the future development of a nearly 18 acre site connected to the parcel over the City line in Everett.

The project will be before the Planning Board later this month and back before the ZBA in April.

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