Housing sought for downtown Chelmsford
CHELMSFORD — Winstanley Enterprises successfully transformed the former Stop & Shop plaza on Boston Road into Chelmsford Town Center, a popular retail and dining spot.
Now, the Concord-based firm has its sights set on creating a 54-unit, market-rate apartment development just down the street.
The proposed Grist Mill Apartments at Beaver Brook would occupy about 6 1/2 acres off Cushing Place, between Bartlett Street and Littleton Road.
Adam Winstanley, principal of Winstanley Enterprises, said the large, luxury apartments aim to attract empty-nesters and young professionals who will contribute to a vibrant, walkable downtown.
“We want to be a piece of the puzzle,” he said.
The project will combine two pieces of property, the existing structures of which will be demolished to accommodate the apartment building, parking and the creation of a small “pocket park,” Winstanley said.
* 1A Central Square, currently owned by Jack Handley, consisting of a small white building and small parking area on either side of Cushing Place.
* 11 Cushing Place, currently owned by Bill Harvey, consisting of a parking lot and large building with spaces now leased out to a fitness center, party rental company and other tenants.
The properties are under agreement, with the sales contingent upon Winstanley Enterprises obtaining all of the permits needed for the project to move forward.
The development will contain a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments, possibly some with three bedrooms, on three levels, Winstanley said.
Rent for the units hasn’t been finalized, but will likely start around $2,200 per month, he said.
The proposed units will have:
* 850 to 1,350 square feet, with most at 1,000 to 1,200 square feet;
* 9-foot ceilings;
* oversized windows;
* stainless steel appliances;
* granite countertops;
* recessed lighting;
* full air conditioning.
Acquisition of the properties, site work and construction will cost an estimated $12 million to $14 million, Winstanley said. It will produce an estimated $180,000 in annual tax revenue for the town, he said.
Apartment residents who enjoy biking will be able to take advantage of the adjacent Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. A bike storage and a repair shop will be on site, said Winstanley Senior Vice President Barbara Green.
Sixty parking spots will be available in a garage under the building, with another 60 outside, Winstanley said.
There will also be some parking for the public utilizing the trail or going to Brickhouse Pizza, pedestrian walkways and landscaping improvements, Green said.
An initial presentation and public hearing on the project was held Tuesday at a joint meeting of the Planning Board and the Conservation Commission. Community Development Director Evan Belansky said town officials will explore traffic impact, building height and architecture and other concerns discussed at the meeting.
The project must go through the Conservation Commission due to its proximity to Beaver Brook. Winstanley Enterprises has committed to building and maintaining a portion of the brook walk called for in the Center Village Master Plan, Green said.
A site walk with the Planning Board and Conservation Commission will be held Aug. 10, followed by another meeting with the Planning Board. The Conservation Commission will take it up again Aug. 22.
Winstanley said he hopes the project will be fully permitted by late fall, so that construction can begin in spring 2017. He expects construction to take at least a year.
He said they would start taking leasing commitments in fall 2017, with the first residents moving into the apartments in spring 2018.
Winstanley said he hopes the investments his firm is making in town will inspire others to do the same.
“There’s a lot of other vacant buildings in the downtown,” he said. “We’d like to see others step up and rehab buildings and continue to make it a more vibrant and beautiful downtown.”