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Theater Block Update: Alternative Plan Would Reduce Number of Apartments

The owner of the property at Dedham and Great Plain Avenues informally discussed presenting another option with Planning Board members Tuesday night.

Representatives for the Mackin Group were back before the Planning Board on Tuesday with a possible new proposal for the property at the corner of Great Plain and Dedham avenues—a plan that would reduce the number of apartments by almost half and focus the majority of construction on the Dedham side.

Property owner Ken Mackin last came before the board in August and since then has been engaged in negotiations with a neighboring property owner over a proposed easement on the site involving a shared driveway off Dedham Avenue. With negotiations stalled, Mackin told the board during an informal discussion on Tuesday that he was considering presenting an alternative plan in case the two parties could not reach an agreement.

The Mackin Group project concerns two buildings separated by a parking lot located at 916-932 Great Plain Avenue and 36-58 Dedham Avenue. Called “Needham Place,” the original plan featured 19 residential units in two four-story buildings with retail space on the ground level—a “mixed use” development requiring special permits. But after local residents voiced concerns about having a four-story building in the downtown, Mackin agreed to reduce the size of the building to three stories.

The alternative proposal suggested this week shows apartments only on the Dedham Avenue side, in a to-be constructed building, with four units each on the second and third floors and two units on the fourth floor, which would be set back 12 feet from the street. The Great Plain Avenue building would be renovated and marketed to commercial tenants almost immediately, Mackin said.

The site would still feature 28 parking spaces, he noted.

Planning Board member Ron Ruth said he hoped Mackin could work out the easement with the other property owner and suggested the town might be able to help mediate to get the project moving.

“If the town can be helpful in breaking that log jam, I think it’s something we should at least consider,” Ruth said.

Board member Jeanne McKnight said she found it “disappointing” that the previously approved plans couldn’t be carried out after much thought had gone into them over several months of discussion. The public hearing on the project had opened in September 2010, with final plans approved in August 2011.

However, McKnight also said she was not against four stories and would be willing to consider the new design.

Mackin said he had met as recently as Friday with the abutter and that the issue could still be resolved and the original plan adopted but that he also respected the abutter’s interests and felt it prudent to present an alternative option, per his architect’s suggestion that they look just at the Dedham Avenue side.

Board chairman Bruce Eisenhut also said he was not opposed to the new plan and that he understood there was a difference between what might be acceptable in terms of size and style on Great Plain Avenue versus what would be OK for Dedham Avenue.

Mackin said he did not expect to submit plans anytime soon but depending on the easement negotiations could bring something before the board in the coming months.

Denise Garcia February 22, 2012 at 03:20 PM
I have to say this is so ugly. We have such an opportunity to make this town come to life. Why are we not following the style of our new town hall. You need to stay with the old world look. Just an opinion of a new comer.

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