BEVERLY — Beverly Crossing has officially filed plans with the city to build a six-story apartment building on a city block across from the train depot.
The development will be called Depot Two and will include 115 apartments, two levels of parking underneath the building, and retail space on the first floor.
Beverly Crossing said in a press release that the $45 million project will "form the centerpiece" of recent developments along Rantoul Street. But the plans drew criticism in April when Beverly Crossing president Chris Koeplin first presented them to the Ward 2 Civic Association.
The project requires the demolition of three historic buildings, including the former Casa de Lucca restaurant and Press Box barroom that were once hotels. Ward 2 City Councilor Estelle Rand said she was holding out hope that the buildings, or portions of them, could be saved, but that will not happen.
"It doesn't look like we're going to get any kind of preservation of actual buildings out of this, but I do think there was value in that process we pushed as a civic association and as a city councilor," Rand said. "Overall it's a better design than what we were first presented with."
The Depot Two building will include studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, as well as a rooftop deck, fitness center and indoor/outdoor gathering spaces.
Koeplin said the company has made changes at the suggestion of residents and city officials, including the creation of a historic exhibit on the corner of Rantoul and Railroad streets that will highlight the significance of the block. The Casa de Lucca and Press Box buildings were both railroad hotels, a term used to describe the hotels that sprung up near train depots as the railroad expanded across the country in the 19th century.
Koeplin said the company is working with Historic Beverly on plans for the exhibit. "We're going to really do a good job commemorating the history of this site and Beverly's connection to the railroad," he said.
Koeplin said the company will also incorporate residents' suggestions on lighting, landscaping and architectural details.
"Not everyone is going to be happy about development, but we listen to good ideas the best we can," he said.
Rand said the new building will be an improvement for the area, but there is still resentment that Beverly Crossing let buildings deteriorate over the last few years. Windover, Beverly Crossing's predecessor company, was at risk of losing $2.2 million in tax credits for another project if the historic buildings were knocked down earlier.
"Watching the buildings crumble and the weeds get overgrown and the graffiti go up, it wasn't a nice thing for the neighborhood," Rand said. "That's the reality. It's the history of the process that's made it difficult to feel 100 percent excited about the development."
The Beverly Historic District Commission voted in April to impose a one-year delay on the demolition of the Casa de Lucca building, but Beverly Crossing will be free to knock it down after that. Demolition delays on the Press Box and Sullivan Chiropractic buildings have already expired.
Construction is expected to start in 2020, with people moving in in 2021, according to the company.
As part of the city's affordable housing requirement, Beverly Crossing will also provide 10 off-site apartments for people who make less than 60 percent of the area's median income. Those apartments will be located at 461 Rantoul St. and 2 Hardy St. Harborlight Community Partners, a Beverly-based nonprofit housing agency, is building six, two-bedroom apartments at the Hardy Street site, with construction expected to begin this summer.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.