NATICK — Seven years in the making, a mixed-use development at the former St. Patrick’s Parish may finally be approaching the finish line as Natick’s Zoning Board of Appeals nears a decision on the project’s permit.
The ZBA has until June 30 to decide on the comprehensive permit for 45 East Central St., a 40B development helmed by Natick-based Stonegate Group.
However, Stonegate representatives and ZBA members agreed last week to reconvene on May 31 and June 9 to review plans and potentially vote, meaning an earlier decision is possible, confirmed Amanda Loomis, Natick’s director of community and economic development.
Years in the making
Stonegate purchased the property in 2015 and later reached a 40B agreement with the town, meaning some of the available units will be classified as affordable housing.
Plans for the site include four townhouses off Lincoln and Wilson streets, as well as restaurants and retail space on the ground floor at 45 East Central St. with more residential units above, according to Stonegate. Residential units will be offered at a mix of affordable and market rates, and there will be residential parking underground.
The former St. Patrick's School at 45 East Central St. in Natick. Daily News File Photo
The project faced some pandemic-related hiccups along the way, as the town was delayed in securing Town Meeting approval to extend the downtown mixed-use zone to the St. Patrick property and make the development feasible.
But Town Meeting approved the zoning change in October 2020 and Stonegate has since worked to refine its plans for the property, spending the past several months meeting with various town boards to answer questions and seek feedback.
‘Very handsome building’
Members of the town’s Design Review Board, which met jointly with the ZBA last week, spoke favorably about the proposal’s latest iteration.
“I think all the refinements that you’ve done in the design are all great,” DRB member Steven Gerrard said. “I think they all improve the design and that it’s really starting to look like a very handsome building.”
A rendering of 45 East Central St. in Natick, the site of a proposed mixed-use development helmed by Stonegate Group. Courtesy Photo/Zoom Screenshot
However, Gerrard raised questions about finely tuning the color palette in the design to make it more cohesive with the neighborhood, a point that Wilson Street resident Christina Taylor also brought up later in the meeting when members of the public weighed in.
“I think it’s — as Steve said — a handsome project,” DRB member Jon Traficonte said. “I think the project will fit in well with Natick, and I think from the Design Review Board’s perspective, the downtown of Natick is what we’re kind of keen to enhance and preserve.”
The project’s scale and materials are appropriate for the downtown and “will look quite nice in this location,” he added.
What are the next steps?
If the ZBA approves the plans, Stonegate will need to record the decision with the Registry of Deeds and file for a building permit with the Building Department, assuming nobody appeals the ZBA decision within the allowable 20-day window, Loomis said.
From there, she said, the timeline depends on Stonegate’s ability to prepare more detailed plans and submit a complete application for a building permit. There may also be a need for additional permits down the line — food permits, for example — depending on how the property’s commercial space is used, she said.
“They will also need to complete construction drawings and have those reviewed by the town for compliance with the approved plans,” Loomis added.
A ZBA denial would require the board to identify its reasons for voting against the project. Stonegate would also have 20 days to appeal the decision.