April 24, 2014

Mixed-use development proposed for Spag's site

PHOTO/Jacquelyn Gutc
Grossman Development Group has proposed an expansive mixed-use development at the former Spag's site on Route 9 in Shrewsbury.

A Southborough-based group has proposed an expansive mixed-use development at the former Spag's site on Route 9 in Shrewsbury.

Grossman Development Group said in a leasing brochure that the 20-acre Lakeway Commons development would include 80,000 square feet of retail space, 250 apartments and 35 townhouse units.

"This was a hole in the donut for certain retail and residential uses," said Howard Grossman, president of Grossman Development.

Grossman said the residential component would be targeted primarily at either young professionals working or studying at UMass Medical Center or empty-nesters looking to downsize but remain in the Shrewsbury area.

The commercial component would include services for people living at the development such as a grocery market and hair or nail salons, as well as restaurants for both residents and the general public, Grossman said. Office space might also be included, he said.

The project would fit the town's vision for mixed-use development, according to Kristen Las, Shrewsbury's economic development coordinator.

Grossman believes mixed-use development will remain popular over the long run as more people become accustomed to the convenience of being able to access basic amenities without having to get into their cars.

The project is in very preliminary stages, Las said, and will go before Town Meeting on Tuesday for zoning and right-of-way changes needed to facilitate the development.

Grossman expects the permitting process to last roughly nine to 12 months, with construction taking an additional 12 to 18 months. Developers plan to build the entire development all at once rather than in phases, Grossman said.

"We look forward to being an active tax-paying member of the community for years to come," Grossman wrote in a letter to Town Meeting members.

The retail portion would be situated toward the front of the development facing Route 9, according to the proposed site plan, anchored by a 22,020-square-foot building sitting directly on the road next to the Sherwin-Williams store. The residential units would be located toward the back of the development.

The site has been designed to be accessible for both pedestrians and public buses, according to the leasing brochure.

Grossman would need to obtain a variety of local and state permits before proceeding, Las said, and would need to appear before the town's planning board and conservation commission for necessary approvals.

Grossman has decades of experience in commercial, retail and residential development, and most recently embarked on a 375,000-square-foot retail development project in the Albany, N.Y., area. Grossman is planning to purchase a small existing retail property in Worcester within the next 60 days, but doesn't have any other recent projects in Central Massachusetts.

Spag's, long an area retail icon, opened the 193 Boston Tpk. site in 1934 and became known throughout the region for its discounting. The main portion of the property was turned into a Building 19 in 2003, but that too encountered trouble and closed last summer.

Grossman said his group started eyeing the property in the fall and began permitting and planning work at least four months ago.

Since the summer, the site has served as the temporary home of Spag's Antique Market Place.

Updated at 11:25 a.m. Friday with comments from Grossman

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