While the board appears to be giving the development largely good marks, there were harsh words last week for part of the proposal — the design of a large residential and commercial building along Washington Street.
“It looks like something out of Miami,” said board member David Jaquith.
Based on input from the board, the developer has made significant changes so far and is expected to make more by the board’s next meeting Feb. 26.
Review of this project is far from over. It will go back to the SRA and on to the Planning Board, which generally draws bigger crowds.
The design debate aside, there is consensus that this is an important project for Salem.
It may not be as “sexy” as the planned $200 million Peabody Essex Museum expansion or have the public impact of the reconstruction of the Salem commuter rail station, but this development will sit on a major roadway through the heart of the downtown and be seen by thousands of motorists every day.
“This is a big enough project that it will (help) define what Salem looks like,” said Emily Udy, preservation project manager for HSI.
“It’s very important — its location, its size,” said board chairman Paul Durand, a principal at Winter Street Architects of Salem. “It has a big impact on the downtown — more than any other project I can remember in the past.”
Tom Dalton can be reached at email@example.com.