It's been years since the old Finnerty's site at the corner of West Plain and Main Street bustled with customers, but a new life for the old site is beginning to take shape.
On Thursday night, members of Wayland's newly formed Design Review Board met with Jesse Adelman and Matt Levy, the last year, and other representatives for the developers.
Thursday's meeting was a time for DRB members to ask questions of Levy, Adelman, their lawyer and engineer. The board is advisory only, and exists to "assist property owners and developers with the design process and issue an advisory opinion to the town boards based on the Wayland Design Guidelines to enhance, protect and promote development consistent with Wayland's Master Plan."
The project intended for that Cochituate corner is now comprised of the parcels at 150 and 160 Main Street as well as 9 and 11 Hammond Road, which will be combined to form a single mixed use retail and office development, with CVS on-board to serve as the corner tenant.
The developers have been in discussions with CVS for some time, explained lawyer Ann Sobolewski, and the drugstore chain has agreed to construct a 10,880 square foot building, significantly smaller than CVS' typical store of at least 13,000 square feet. The store would be built in a colonial style in order to remain consistent with the feel of the building that has been on that corner for decades.
“Everybody seems to like the way Finnerty’s looked for 30-odd years,” said Phil Henry, an engineer on the project.
Sobolewski explained that the entire development is intended to be pedestrian friendly and that the developers have begun to look at traffic issues and safety.
In addition to the CVS building on the corner, a second structure, this one two stories, is proposed for further down West Plain -- closer to the Cochituate ball field.
This building would house office space on the top floor and, as currently proposed, a sit-down restaurant with seasonal outdoor dining, an ice cream shop, a bakery and retail space on the first floor. The specific tenants are yet to be determined, and DRB member Kathy Schreiber suggested the developers consider some different types of businesses given the products and services already operating in town.
She specifically pointed out that Frozen Yogurt Innovations recently opened across the street from the Finnerty's property. "It's a wonderful new business in town," Schreiber said. "I'd hate to think that there could be competition [across the street]."
The site proposal adheres to the Design Guidelines, but DRB members were uncomfortable with locating CVS' pharmacy drive-through on the corner of the property -- the most visible portion of the site.
“The drive-through on this corner is completely contradictory to everything you’re trying to do,” Schreiber said. “I'd love you to reconsider the orientation on this corner."
According to the development team, CVS insists on having a pharmacy drive-through, though the development team said it was open to suggestions as far as how to better orient the building. That said, CVS also has specific requirements for where the entrance to the store is located in relation to parking and the pharmacy.
“We’re open to suggestions," Adelman told the board. "I promise that’s not where we wanted to deliver the drive-through. We’ve had some wins along the way. We’ve gotten them to invest significant money in the look of the building.”
Wayland's available parking requirements significantly restricted the placement of the buildings on the site, the developers explained.
Town Planner Sarkis Sarkisian said Wayland's parking regulation is probably one of the highest in Metrowest, but a possible solution could be taking advantage of the parking available diagonally across the intersection. He said Wayland's zoning bylaw allows for businesses to use parking that is available within 300 yards.
Reduced parking requirements on the Finnerty's site could allow for a different orientation of the buildings and, most importantly for the DRB, the CVS drive-through.
"You know, the Finnerty’s has been a very popular building for years," said DRB chair Bill Sterling. "Our feeling was, it’s OK to tear it down as long as you replace it with something nicer.
"We’re here really just to help you with positive encouragement," Sterling continued. "I’ve been on the other side of the table. I hope you’re as open-minded as I was forced to be. I don’t want to come on as a design czar."
Developers will meet again with the Design Review Board on July 26 at 6:30 p.m.