SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 11, 2013

New buildings proposed for Peabody's Centennial Park

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — A developer is proposing to build two new buildings at Centennial Park to attract a variety of commercial tenants.

Beals Associates, based in Charlestown, said the development, to be called Centennial Crossings, “may include varying retail, a coffee shop, restaurants, artistic/crafts workshop space and professional space,” according to a document filed with the City Council.

The development would be located at 4 First Ave., just south of the Route 128 and Route 95 interchange. The property, which is less than 3 acres, is now grasslands and a parking lot. It will include a one-story and a two-story building and, when completed, could employ about 35 people in a combined 25 units.

Following a site review by the Community Development Department yesterday — the results have not yet been made public — the project will go before the Planning Board before being considered by the City Council.

The new development appears to be exactly the kind of proposal Mayor Ted Bettencourt said last January that he wanted to attract in an effort to “rebrand” Centennial Park, in order to compete with other business parks such as Beverly’s Cummings Center.

“I’m interested in increasing the types of uses,” Bettencourt said at the time. An allowed business needn’t be strictly industrial in nature, he explained. “There could be other kinds of commercial use.”

Tessa Marc Aurele, the Planning Board secretary, said the developer hopes to attract “the sorts of places that the people who work in or go to the industrial park might use,” such as a restaurant or coffee shop.

The developers have already heard from a doctor seeking office space, she added.

Marc Aurele believes the project falls within current zoning. The application, however, does ask for waivers regarding the number of parking spaces required (115 instead of 161) and exceptions to setback requirements, among other things.

Because the businesses that might locate there will be offering something aimed at people already working at the park, the developer says the amount of traffic generated “will be insignificant compared to the existing industrial park traffic.” Blasting “is not likely” and various features are promised to mitigate storm water runoff.

A public hearing before the Planning Board is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. in the lower level of City Hall. The developer proposes beginning construction in mid-October and finishing by August 2014.

Beals Associates is described as a land planning company working, in this case, on behalf of John and Kevin Lucey of Topsfield.

“Good things are happening,” said City Council President Tom Gould. While cautioning that he hasn’t studied the proposal yet, he said, “It sounds like a great idea. Anything that brings people to the city. Love it.”