BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — Is Brimbal Avenue ready for a $20 million shopping plaza?
That’s the question that will be taken up by the City Council and Planning Board at a public hearing Tuesday night at City Hall.
Mayor Bill Scanlon has asked the two boards to consider approving a zoning change that would allow a developer to build a shopping plaza on Brimbal Avenue across from Vittori-Rocci Post.
The plaza would have a 35,000-square-foot anchor store, three restaurants, a bank, and retail and medical space.
Ward 5 City Councilor Don Martin, who voted against a similar rezoning in 2009, said he continues to be concerned about the impact of development on the area.
“You are creating a situation where there will be more traffic, so I think it’s something we need to be very careful about,” he said.
The shopping plaza, which would be developed by CEA Group of Cambridge, needs a zoning change to proceed because it would be partially built on the site of the road that connects Sohier Road and Brimbal Avenue.
The state owns that land but is looking to swap it for an adjacent piece of land owned by CEA Group. That would allow the state and city to build a new connector road designed to ease traffic problems from Route 128 to Brimbal Avenue.
The new connector road and shopping plaza are part of the first phase of the larger Brimbal Avenue project. In a letter to the Planning Board asking it to consider the zoning change, Scanlon called the Brimbal Avenue project “the single most promising economic development prospect in the city’s foreseeable future.”
The land swap between the state and CEA Group must first be approved by the state Legislature.
The connector road would be moved about 400 feet, an effort to prevent cars from backing up onto Route 128 during peak traffic times, including during North Shore Music Theatre shows.
The first phase of the project also involves widening part of Brimbal Avenue from two lanes to four lanes; putting traffic lights or roundabouts at the intersections of the connector road with Sohier Road and Brimbal Avenue; and putting a traffic light at the intersection of Herrick Street Extension and Brimbal Avenue.
The project would cost about $5 million, which would be paid for by the state.
In the application, the city said the shopping plaza, called North Shore Commons, “will act as a gateway and catalyst for further investment in the surrounding commercially zoned area.”
The architect for North Shore Commons is Prellwitz Chilinski Associates of Cambridge, which the application described as “one of the leading designers of retail centers in New England.” The firm designed Legacy Place in Dedham, the South Station retail concourse in Boston and the Market Street development being built in Lynnfield.
The public hearing is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.