Details of New Arsenal St. Development Revealed by Developer

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A drawing of the residential/retail project proposed by Greystar. Arsenal Street runs across the long side and Irving Street is on the left side of it.

A drawing of the residential/retail project proposed by Greystar. Arsenal Street runs across the long side and Irving Street is on the left side of it.

A new project proposed for the corner of Arsenal and Irving streets will serve as a guinea pig for the town’s new zoning rules and regulations.

Developers Greystar Real Estate, which is working with local partners Oaktree FX, met with the general public for the first time on Monday at the Police Station and presented their current vision for the 5.79 acre project that will include 278 apartments and 15,000 square feet of retail space.

Brandon Henry, who runs development for Greystar in the Northeast, thanked the town for inviting Greystar to be the “demonstration project” for the new zoning rules.

“We want your feedback and ideas so we can incorporate it into the development. I have seen a lot of developments and in my opinion this site is the best one in Watertown,” Henry said.

Because it is the demonstration project, Town Councilor Tony Palomba said he hopes the developers will be patient with the process. He noted that the Comprehensive Plan and the Design Standards and Guidelines, where the zoning changes will come from, have not been completed yet.

“This is a huge responsibility,” Palomba said. “A number of meetings need to take place. The design guidelines won’t be done in December, not in February and maybe not even in March. I appreciate the patience you are showing.”

The buildings will be four stories and 50 feet tall. Some of the parking will be underneath the apartments, but a garage will also be built for the side with the retail stores.

What stores will go into the retail space has not been determined, but developers said they would like to find a “regional restaurant,” along with other businesses – perhaps a yoga studio.

The retail section will face the market at the approved Hanover project at 202 Arsenal Street, and will share a driveway.

Traffic topped the list of residents’ concerns. Some worried about cars coming in and out of the shared driveway. Henry said it has enough capacity for both projects and will have a new set of traffic lights installed. It would even work for a third project that could go on land where the Extra Innings Watertown batting cage business is now located.

There will be two other entrances, a second on Arsenal Street and one on Irving Street.

Irving Street resident Elaine Grey said she does not like the idea of an entrance on her street.

“I don’t want to see any cars entering and exiting on Irving Street,” Grey said. “The street already has a lot of traffic, and there are lots of accidents.”

Residents did like other aspects of the project, including breaking facade of the building up by creating courtyards between wings.

“As opposed to other projects, this reminds me of garden apartments, which were probably one of the best large capacity building design of the last century,” said resident Joe Levendusky.

The project also includes a bike path and a pedestrian path. Originally designers wanted to put the bike path in back of the building as part of a buffer with neighbors. The bike path being built by Hanover, however, will run in front of the building, so Greystar will do the same.

The pedestrian path will remain, however.

“We put the pedestrian path in back,” Henry said. “Hopefully it will connect to Hanover and the market.”

Henry said Greystar tried to minimize the amount of cars at the building. Bike racks will be placed at each entrance and the development will have a bus stop out front. They may also join a local transportation management association to provide shuttles around the area.

There will be nearly 500 spaces. Henry said he would likely have fewer, but the town’s zoning rules require that many.

Steve Magoon, director of Community Development and Planning, said Greystar could take another look the number of parking spots he would want.

“I think you should give some thought about how many spaces you think yo unwed if it wasn’t an ordinance requirement and say how many you want,” Magoon said.

Residents also asked developers to consider using green building practices, such as having a green roof with vegetation on top and/or having solar panels on the roof.

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