SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 24, 2013

Mixed-use building proposed in Hamilton

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — HAMILTON — A proposal to erect a three-story, mixed-use building on Willow Street will go before the Planning Board tonight, several years after the town approved zoning to allow this kind of development.

If approved, it will be located at 227 Willow St. on a vacant lot that was formerly the site of a house between Dodge Tree Service and the Willowdale office complex. Willow Street runs parallel to Bay Road (Route 1A).

The first and second floors will be used for offices, with housing on the third floor, according to Michael Pallazola, the developer. The project also includes a basement-level parking garage.

Pallazola must receive a special permit from the Planning Board before moving forward. The board has had several meetings on the project already and called for several changes. The proposed building will be 41 feet high.

The building will sit in front of an office and retail building that was recently upgraded by Pallazola. He hopes to bring a bakery to that building, according to a description of the project on apartmentbank.com.

Pallazola could not be reached for comment.

The Planning Board will meet again at 7:30 tonight to discuss the proposal.

Several concerns have been raised about the project, mostly about the height and building materials, but in general, it has been received favorably. A portion of the building was redesigned to make sure the building’s height was not emphasized.

“I thought the drawing looked terrific and represents the exact kind of project so many of us have been advocating for within the downtown area,” Selectman Jeffrey Hubbard wrote in a letter of support. “This project can only benefit downtown businesses, which indirectly helps our downtown.”

The Willow Street Overlay District was designed to encourage economic development, grow business and increase tax revenue to the town. The plan, approved at Town Meeting in 2010, allows for mixed residential and commercial, multifamily residential, office, retail, restaurant and athletic facilities, among other uses. The district consists of an area within the Business District, west of the railroad tracks and along Willow Street from Asbury Street to include 203 Willow St., according to the bylaw.

The Zoning Board of Appeals took an advisory vote in support of the project.

“The board is generally supportive of this proposal and believes that is the type of project which the Willow Street Overlay District is meant to accommodate,” Bill Bowler, ZBA chairman, wrote in a letter. “The members believe that the building will be set back from the street sufficiently that the height of the proposed building will not overwhelm the neighborhood.”

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.