By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,548)
Two car indoor parking or more retail space for the neighborhood?
That was the overriding interest at a preliminary meeting for neighbors held tonight at 118 Congress Street as the development team outlined steps to be taken in the conversion of TLA’s office building into a 12-unit condominium building. Chip Newell facilitated the meeting.
The only document filed to date with the city’s planning office is for a zoning text amendment. It requests that the developer be allowed to add 5 ft. to the height of the building – pushing it up to 50 ft. in height – to allow retail space to be built on the first floor. “Retailers like nice high ceilings,” said Ed Therault, of TLA, owner of the building and a partner in the development. He conceded the height increase request is also to improve the already “distant view” from the top of the building. If the zoning change does not go through, there will be no retail space on the first floor; an asset that most were in favor of.
About 75 ft. or less than 40% of the front of the building will be dedicated to retail space. The rest of the property will be reserved for in-door parking. Two parking spaces per condominium are planned. However, a few neighbors said they would rather see more retail space and less indoor parking on site. Newell said the retail space could house an art gallery, but no restaurant is contemplated there.
The zoning text amendment will go to the planning board on November 12th. It’s possible at this time that language from the B2 zone will become part of the B1 zone, in which 118 Congress Street is located. It states that a commercial property height can be increased if retail space is needed. This language will have to be approved by the city council. Wright-Ryan Construction is the building. They hope to break ground in the spring and about ten months will be needed for construction. No drawings or plans of the development are available yet.
Other members of the development team include David Lloyd and attorney Tom Federle. Sales and marketing will be handled by Jed Rathburn.