What’s Happening: On Thursday September 7 at 7:00pm at 120 Washington Street in the 3rd Floor conference room the Planning Board is holding a Public Hearing to review a proposed development for 18 Franklin Street (the former Ferris Auto Service property). The proposal is for 43 condo units in 5 buildings. Click here for the agenda.
Why This Matters: This is the furthest east property in the North River Canal Corridor (NRCC). It is the first of as many of seven properties near the intersection of North, Commercial and Franklin Streets that will be facing redevelopment in the next few years, and this project will set the expectation of quality to measure the other projects. As a waterfront development, this project has high visibility from downtown and the North River overpass and it will impact the historic North Salem neighborhood in which it sits.
Historic Salem Opinion: Development of this site is guided by the North River Canal Corridor master plan which sets specific goals for this Northeast area of the Corridor. These include low density housing in the scale of the surrounding neighborhood and improvements to pedestrian access along the North River, along both sides of Franklin Street, to the MBTA lot and at the intersection of North and Franklin Streets. We believe that achieving these goals will create a project that respects the neighborhood character.
What You Can Do: This is the first meeting for city permits for this project, and it is important that community input is heard early during the initial public comment period. Please consider attending the meeting with us or sending an opinion to the Planning Board by clicking here. Note that there will be a series of Planning Board, Design Review Board, and Conservation Commission meetings going forward to review this project
If this is your first planning board meeting (or you want a refresher) click here to read the guidelines of a Planning Board meeting.
After considering the arguments for and against the zoning change on Derby Street, the Planning Board voted 6 to 1 to not support rezoning until the Downtown Renewal District boundaries could also be expanded. Read the official decision here.
The Urban Renewal District, as administered by the Salem Redevelopment Authority, provides controls for demolition and design, which Historic Salem agrees is imperative for any B-5 zoning expansion.
Read the related Salem Matters advocacy alert here: Zoning changes proposed for Derby Street may impact historic fabric of neighborhood.
What’s Happening: On Wednesday, July 26 at 6:00 p.m. at 120 Washington Street, 3rd Floor Conference Room, there will be a joint meeting of the Design Review Board and the Salem Redevelopment Authority. The Design Review Board agenda includes continued discussion and vote to approve the schematic design for 65 Washington Street – the proposed new condominium development by Diamond Sinacori, LLC and Urban Spaces, LLC on the former Salem District Court site. Click here for the agenda.
Why This Matters: This is a very high impact project because of its size and location at the entrance corridor to the downtown. The project will tear-down the empty Salem District Court building at the corner of Federal and Washington Streets and build a new condominium complex. It will stretch almost an entire city block from Federal Street to Church Street, and will be one of the first large buildings seen when arriving downtown. It is important that the Design Review Board require quality design.
Historic Salem Opinion: An important part of our mission is to ensure that new development complements the historic character of the city. The quality of construction, as well as the design of this building, has been under significant scrutiny and criticism from the City as well as Historic Salem and residents of Salem. We are asking for pedestrian friendly street-level design (from both storefronts and parking areas) and details that compliment the neighborhood. It is important to speak up for a good design, materials, and scale for this project because once it is built, it is here to stay.
What You Can Do: Please consider attending the meeting with us on Wednesday, July 26th or e-mail an opinion to the Design Review Board directly.
We also have a Facebook conversation about good design in Salem, read what others think and let us know your thoughts.
What’s Happening: On July 20 at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall, the City Council will continue the public hearing regarding a citizen’s request for a zoning change from R2 to B5 at 204, 206, 214, and 222 Derby Street. Click here for the agenda.
Why This Matters: Rezoning these parcels from Residential Two Family (R2) to Central Development (B5) heightens the risk of tear-downs of these smaller historic buildings and re-builds of much larger buildings and denser development, which would change the character of this important entry corridor to the historic Derby Street neighborhood. Rezoning could also help legitimize potential roll-out of this dense, city center zoning down all of historic Derby Street.
HSI Opinion: The buildings in question are currently mixed-use, grandfathered into an R2 zone, which requires zoning relief for use changes. While HSI understands this inconvenience, the risk to the character of the historic Derby Street neighborhood is more important. Better solutions include either rezoning these parcels to the more neighborhood-appropriate Business Neighborhood (B1) zoning or protecting the historic buildings with preservation easements before rezoning to B5. The Council could also consider extending the local historic district to encompass these properties, which would require more municipal scrutiny over any future building changes.
What You Can Do: Please consider joining us at the public hearing on the 20th. You can also e-mail an opinion directly to the city council by clicking here.