October 26, 2017

WRTA site developer unveils urban-friendly design

Courtesy
A project rendering shows Galaxy Development's revised plans for the former WRTA site on Grove Street.

After negative feedback on the first set of plans for a 5.3-acre shopping plaza at the former Worcester Regional Transit Authority site on Grove Street, Auburn-based Galaxy Development on Wednesday unveiled a more pedestrian- and city-oriented design.

Galaxy Development, which is proposing a 65,000-square-foot, four-building mixed-use plaza at the former WRTA site on Grove Street, significantly revised its plans after negative feedback from city officials last month.

The new plans were presented to the Planning Board on Wednesday, which called new placements and configuration of buildings to make the development more aesthetically pleasing from the street.

City leaders -- notably City Manager Ed Augustus -- said the previous plans had the buildings focused too much on the interior of the site and the parking lot while blank walls of the buildings would be facing the street.

Patrick Doherty of MidPoint Engineering, who is working with Galaxy, said the site was revised to incorporate a strong pedestrian and city component.

The sides of all four buildings facing the street will now be designed as if they were the front of the building, and some were even rotated to achieve the same effect.

Planning Director Stephen Rolle agreed plans have been significantly revised, including the relocation of a proposed drive-thru to hide queuing of cars from the street.

The site, Rolle said, has very significantly improved in design.

Though members agreed that plans are significantly improved, board held off on approval until the Zoning Board has a say at a meeting next month.

The old transit authority building was demolished earlier this year. The WRTA opened its new $90-million hub at 42 Quinsigamond Ave. last fall.

Galaxy has been working to remove contaminated soils and is now awaiting test results, Brodeur said.

Galaxy Development bought the site at 287 Grove St. in March 2016 under the name Galaxy Grove LLC for $3.8 million. The city had a public bidding process for the five-acre site, with a $3-million minimum bid price.

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