This is the text of a letter submitted to the Planning Board in advance of their May 20, 2021 meeting and to the Design Review Board in advance of their May 26, 2021 meeting.
Dear Mr. Griset and Mr. Durand,
As we have been participating in this community review of the proposed project at 4 Franklin Street, we have been pleased to see the unified opinion the Planning Board expressed regarding building placement and the receptiveness with which the applicant responded to this request.
We have one other major concern and that is regarding the materials in this proposal. The North River Canal Corridor Zoning Ordinance in Section 188.8.131.52 highly discourages the following materials: precast concrete, pre-fabrication aluminum or metal panels. We ask the Boards to work with incoming neighborhood member Cataldo Ambulance to merge the desired look of their brand with the neighborhood’s established “brand” or, as it is described in the Zoning Ordinance, “historic neighborhood character.”
The materials that are encouraged in the ordinance are brick, stone or wood. These, or similar, materials could lend a warmth and connection to place that the building, as currently proposed, lacks. The highly discouraged materials should not be allowed.
There are numerous examples in the neighborhood that the architect did not identify when presenting to the Design Review Board. The Valvoline building and the Salvation Army Chapel (image attached), both designed prior to the NRCC district designation, underwent extensive design work so that the buildings could meet their function, which includes contributing to the public realm. The historic fire station building on North St. provides public safety and is a relevant neighborhood design precedent. Indeed, North Street has a wide mix of historic building uses and there are a variety of forms and materials that could beneficially influence the design of this building.
Because this proposal meets so few of the stated requirements of the NRCC plan, we ask the boards to insist that the building take stronger material cues from the immediate neighborhood and from downtown Salem, the backdrop of this site.
We appreciate the work these two boards do to elevate development in Salem and we appreciate the opportunity as members of the public to have our thoughts considered.
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