Neighbors Liking Somerset Ave. Smaller Design

The last time developer Joanna Schwartz came to Winthrop with plans to build on Somerset Avenue she got an earful from residents saying her plan was too tall, too big, too much of a parking concern – and on top that no one seemed to know where the specific area of the Center Business District begins and ends.

A new rendering of the proposed Somerset Avenue development.

But Monday night when she brought her revised plans to the Planning Board the reception was a little warmer.

Initial plans called for an overpowering five-story building with 40 units.

There are some details to address before the Planning Board will vote on the project.

Schwartz and her team went back to the drawing board and came out with a very receptive design featuring, four stories (about 10 feet higher than the triple-deckers next door), underground parking for 29 cars, 30 units instead of the request 40, a newly added 1,000 square-foot retail spot on ground level. Also more trees and planters and a bike room for 15, a Zip Car spot and a third-floor fitness room were added.

“It’s a totally revamped design,” Schwartz said.

Envelo Properties of Boston and Newport purchased the property at 10-26 Somerset Ave (the former Dollar Store) for $1.2 million more than a year ago after being vacant for 10 years.

“We redesigned the roofline and added new dormers to reflect the architecture on nearby homes and triple deckers,” Schwarz said.

The new design shows off New England clapboard siding in seaside colors. The window and railing style are more New England. The building will also be modular construction.

Schwarz intends to also set the building back three feet  to help expand and beautify the sidewalk. She’s held several meetings with neighbors to understand their concerns.

For the most part those attending the meeting said they loved the building and thought Schwarz and her team did an amazing job.

“It’s not my taste but the community likes it,” said Planning Board member Honor Mercet.

Member Gina DiMento said she did not like the backside of the building that she said was flat with no character like in the front.

“The revised plans are great,” said Planning Board member Vincent Zappulla.

Abutter Tom Reilly said “we still don’t have a map. One year later and no map (of the Center Business District area).”

The Town Manager’s office is working on the issues regarding the center business district, including a map that defines the area.

“It’s not you Joanna that’s the issue it’s the officials,” said abutter Jean Coughlin.

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