While developer Sam Park spoke of firming up new tenant agreements, including with coffee giant Starbucks, city officials Thursday visited Gloucester Crossing for a first-hand look at updated plans that include a pair of drive-through facilities and other work on the site.
Bundled against windy, sub-freezing conditions, members of the City Council's Planning and Development Subcommittee spent some 40 minutes touring the corner of Cape Ann's largest shopping plaza that will soon house a HomeGoods store, up to five other businesses attached to that structure, and the anticipated coffee shop and drive-throughs.
The committee — Chairman Val Gilman, Paul Lundberg and Jen Holmgren — checked out the future location of another retail building —expected to include a pharmacy or bank branch with a drive-through — and the location of new access sidewalks and a stairway that would lead pedestrians from Gloucester Crossing Road and the planned YMCA at the Fuller School complex up a steep hill to the coffee shop and other Crossing businesses.
"I think it's been very helpful to visualize the location, particularly for the stairs and the access," said Gilman, whose committee was joined by fellow City Councilors Scott Memhard, Ken Hecht and Jamie O'Hara, Planning Board Chairman Rick Noonan, city Planning Director Gregg Cademartori and a handful of residents. "I think we have had our questions answered."
"I just think it's going to be great," added Holmgren. She said she had a concern over the length of the sidewalk route for people with disabilities to sidestep the stairs up the steep grade by the Crossing entrance, but that Park has taken steps to address a variety of council concerns.
Park was not on hand for the tour, which was led by project engineer Tim Power and local attorney Michele Harrison, who has represented Park on the Crossing project as well as on the adjacent Fuller School revitalization. Fuller site plans include additional retail space for Park along with plans for a new Cape Ann YMCA and a 200-unit housing complex to be built by Windover Construction in consort with the Dolben Company of Woburn.
Park said the Gloucester Crossing overall project — with an 11,000-square-foot retail building replacing the original, 2009 plans for four-story, 100-room hotel — is less dense than the original, with more parking and other space.
"We're downsizing (from the initially permitted plans), if anything, and I think everything works better," Park said in a phone interview after the council tour. "I think it makes for a little extra space for comfort, so to speak."
The tour came as work within the Aspen Dental building near the Crossing entrance nears completion. Construction on the upper levels of a new addition alongside the Petco store that will house a new HomeGoods store and attach to a retail building with up to five other businesses was also happening.
Park said he's zeroing in on agreements with tenants to fill the new spaces, including a deal with Starbucks to occupy a standalone building with a drive-through at the end of the HomeGoods structure.
"We're close to having a done deal with Starbucks if we get the (drive-through and amended permits)," he said, "but it's also about meeting their construction schedule." He said the national coffee chain wants to open by June 30.
Park said talks with tenants for the other spaces have included discussions with Japanese- and Indian-themed restaurants, and a pharmacy and bank tenants that would utilize the other drive-through.
"It's good to get a look at the site," Lundberg said, noting the committee will discuss the plans at its Wednesday meeting and make a recommendation to the full council for a Jan. 22 public hearing. "I think it's going to be just fine."
Ray Lamont may be reached at 978-675-2705, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: The City Council's Planning and Development Subcommittee will discuss Gloucester Crossing drive-throughs and other growth plans at its regular meeting next week.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 5:30 p.m.
Where: First-floor council committee room, City Hall, 9 Dale Ave.
Note: Meeting is not a public hearing; committee expected to make recommendations regarding plans to full council for public hearing tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 22.