Gloucester Crossing growing

RAY LAMONT/Staff file photoSam Park, developer for Gloucester Crossing, has acknowledged that “the rumors of Starbucks are valid rumors,” when it comes to a coffeeshop opening at the plaza.

Gloucester city councilors are poised to give the go-ahead for a pair of drive-through windows within a still-growing Gloucester Crossing complex.

Members of the council’s Planning and Development Subcommittee are slated to meet Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in front of the Crossing’s Petco store to first get a close-up look at the Sam Park and Company project. They’ll visit the construction sites pegged by Park to house a coffee shop with a drive-through window and a nearby pharmacy or bank building with another drive-up.

In addition to the drive-throughs, other changes call for elimination of any hotel plans in favor of 11,000 square feet of retail space that Park expects to fill alongside Gloucester Crossing Road in the hotel’s planned position. The site visit comes as all three committee members – Chairman Val Gilman, Council President Paul Lundberg and first-term member Jen Holmgren – lean toward positive recommendations.

The project is Phase 2 for a development hatched in 2006 and opened after its first construction phase nine years ago. The committee is considering amendments to Park’s initial permits for the changes. The drive-through facilities will be in a section of the development that will include a new HomeGoods store adjacent to the Petco shop and another new building alongside. Construction crews are also moving toward completion of an office building with an Aspen Dental outlet now promoted as “coming soon.”

Park has reduced the footprint of the front piece of the project significantly, plugging in an 11,400-square-foot retail building to replace the planned four-story, 180,400-square-foot hotel. The application also notes that, while the hotel permits called for the removal of several trees, the revised project instead includes environmental gains such as plantings, adaptability to solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations.

“I felt it was important that we have a site visit and see what we have,” said Gilman, “especially given that we have two drive-throughs and a pedestrian walkway coming up from the Fuller mixed-use (property) over to Gloucester Crossing.”  Park is a partner with Windover Construction and the Cape Ann YMCA in developing the former Fuller School site, but his buildout of Gloucester Crossing site is not tied to that $70 million development project. 

“Right now, I don’t have any issues with (the Crossing growth),” Gilman added. “Anything that is there should become clear when we visit the site, but it seems as if everything meets our requirements when it comes to our drive-through ordinance and other issues.”

“For what they’ve shown (in presentations), I don’t see any hurdles,” Lundberg said. “We’re doing our due diligence (with the site visit), but it seems to fit well with the traffic patterns, the parking requirements and so on. As (Park) builds out Gloucester Crossing, that’s all to the good as far as I can see.”

Holmgren said she has had concerns about such issues as parking and turnaround space for large trucks within the complex -- especially in the areas now under construction. But she believes those questions are being addressed.

“It all seems largely positive to me,” she said. “It seems that Sam Park has made sure to collaborate with the city through this whole process.

“I’m looking forward to the site visit to see if we find anything else,” she said, “and I appreciate all the developers have done to make sure big trucks have room to maneuver and that there is accessibility -- for people in wheelchairs, parents who using strollers. That’s all important, but it seems all largely positive.”

The amendment applications do not specify any pending tenants for the new buildings beyond HomeGoods and Aspen Dental. Park has said previously he’s actively courting Starbucks for the coffee shop and CVS for the potential pharmacy.

Gilman said the revised plans call for keeping an assisted living facility – one of the initial project’s permitted gems, in the eyes of many local housing advocates – on the drawing board. Park had said earlier this year he is still seeking a health-care corporation with which to partner and run that type of facility.

“I know there are challenges,” Gilman said, noting that the city’s ordinance for an assisted living facility would require that 20 percent of the units be built as affordable under state and federal eligibility guidelines. “But I’m hoping we can all put our heads together, reach out, dig deeper and see if we can come up with a solution to that as well.”

 Park could not be reached for comment for this story.

Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705 or rlamont@gloucestertimes.com.

 

IF YOU GO

What: Site visit by City Council’s Planning and Development Subcommittee to proposed Gloucester Crossing drive-through locations and other revised development space.

When: Thursday, Jan. 10, at 2:30 p.m.

Where: Subcommittee to meet in front of Petco store at Gloucester Crossing.

Status: Site visit is not a public hearing, but members of the public are welcome to attend, observe and listen to discussion.