Retail, Office Complex Planned Near Interstate 93
ANDOVER — Real estate developer Sal Lupoli is proposing a 350,000-square-foot office and retail complex on the old Brockway-Smith property at the junction of Dascomb Road and Interstate 93.
Lupoli, owner of the Sal's pizza and Salvatore's restaurants chains as well as the Riverwalk complex at 354 Merrimack St. in Lawrence, went before the Zoning Board of Appeals seeking approval for a subdivision plan.
"I've been looking at this property for three years," Lupoli said. "I've been talking to town officials. This is one of the largest buildings in the region and it was completely empty. I saw a chance for a mixed-use development."
But Lupoli's plans changed when Restaurant Depot, the current owners of the property, purchased the building and began converting the back portion of the 300,000-square-foot structure into a wholesale warehouse selling supplies to small- and medium-sized restaurants.
While Restaurant Depot is using just one third of the building, the remainder of the structure was sitting idle, Lupoli said. Last night, he proposed subdividing the building so Restaurant Depot would remain in the back portion of the property while he would take over the front portion. The two parts of the property would be separated by a wall.
Lupoli would then buy the front part of the building from Restaurant Depot, which would continue to own the rear portion. The Zoning Board had to approve the subdivision plan because Lupoli needed a variance from the bylaw which requires a 40-foot setback for all buildings. Engineer Richard Friberg of TEC in Lawrence explained that the only other way to do it would be to demolish an 80-foot-wide swath of the building so the two remaining structures would be 80 feet apart, each with a 40-foot setback.
He said that would make the project financially unfeasible because the developer would lose too much valuable office-space while Restaurant Depot would also lose space.
The ZBA approved the subdivision unanimously.
"I think something like this is an addition to the town," said ZBA member Kate Bargnesi.
Member Denise Bordonaro agreed.
"I think it's a great project going forward," she said.
Chairman David Brown added, "This is a really good proposal. It may be the only way an underutilized property will be developed to its maximum potential."
The next step is for Lupoli to get a special permit from the Planning Board, which will look more closely at the plans for the entire site.
Lupoli, his engineers and attorney explained that because the building has 24-foot-high ceilings, he would create a second, mezzanine level, adding about 135,000 square feet to the main building. That would create a total of about 280,000 square feet in the main building, to be used as warehouse, office and retail, they said.
In front of the main building, heading out toward Dascomb Road, Lupoli plans to build another nine, smaller retail buildings that would house restaurants, salons, fitness centers and other businesses. A large parking area would be located between the buildings and a 112-space, two-story parking garage would also be built off to the side of the site.
Paul Materazzo, the town planning director, gave a brief presentation at the start of last night's meeting, explaining the purpose of the new zoning at the site and how it was meant to encourage just the kind of project being proposed by Lupoli.
According to the zoning bylaw, “Residents and workers in the West Andover and the Dascomb Road area have limited access to obtain the services that homeowners, business people and employees readily enjoy in other parts of Andover.”
The rezoning was aimed at bringing in “conveniences and services ... to underserved residents, business community and commuters” in that part of town, the bylaw says.
For years, the building and the 23 acres it sits on was mostly vacant as Brockway-Smith's manufacturing facility moved elsewhere. In 2013, Town Meeting approved a rezoning proposal that allowed for a mixed use of retail, office and other commercial activities in the area around Dascomb Road. Previously, the area was zoned for warehouses and other industrial uses only.
In addition to the buildings, Lupoli's team has proposed several traffic and sewer system improvements, which could help the area over the long term, Materazzo said.
"This is a big deal," he said. "If this project goes forward, it will help the town provide long-term solutions to infrastructure issues, like traffic. The road is plugged up and antiquated. There would be mitigation and they could be required to upgrade Dascomb Road to allow it to flow more seamlessly."
Lupoli's attorney, Douglas Hausler, explained after the meeting that the company may install a light at the intersection of Dascomb and Frontage roads where an entrance would be constructed into Lupoli's property. The other entrance would be further down Dascomb Road, toward Hewlett-Packard.
He said there was also an opportunity to expand the town's sewer system with the Lupoli project. Currently, businesses in the area are hooked up to Tewksbury's sewer system.
Lupoli is also nearly finished building a medical center on Lowell Street across from the IRS.
By Bill Kirk · October 3, 2014 · The Eagle Tribune