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Hyannis Mixed Use Redevelopment

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West End condo plan raises questions, has support

Zoning board listens to plans, questions density

By David Still II

High-end condominiums and a first-floor parking garage are planned for the former West End Marketplace on Main Street in Hyannis, but a good amount of relief from the zoning board of appeals will be necessary to turn those plans into reality.

The ZBA had its first look at the proposal last week, hearing from owner Jack Hynes and his project team, which includes attorney Jack Roberts, who made the majority of the presentation.

The proposal calls for 13 two-bedroom condominium units on the second and third floors of the building. The two restaurants in the front would remain.

To meet the parking requirement of two spaces for each unit, a portion of the first floor is suggested to become a parking garage for 18 vehicles, which when combined with eight spaces outside hits the two-spaces per unit requirement.

For the members of the ZBA, the project is seen as complex, with a couple of members suggesting that it be scaled back.

The West End Marketplace has been an under-utilized space for the past decade and beyond. Converted in the late 1970s into an open marketplace for multiple shops and food outlets, the structure's more recent history has been that of a large night club, the most famous (infamous) of which was Guido Murphy's.

Part of the problem with finding other uses for the building has been the underlying zoning. As a large building with essentially no parking, the restaurant/club use was grandfathered from meeting parking requirements, which meant as long as the use did not change, the parking requirements would not have to be met. Any new use would bring on the full parking requirements.

That burden was lessened a bit with the passing of the MA-1 district, which allowed public parking lots within 500 feet of the property to be utilized to offset the requirements. The exception is parking for apartments, for which on-site parking is required.

Hynes needs the board to sign off on the number of units (more than 10 require a special permit), and because the proposal increases the overall square footage, all zoning requirements for the new use are triggered.

Board Chairman Dan Creedon suggested that an additional request for relief from parking requirements could be another avenue to address the board's concerns about the intensity and parking garage. But attorney Roberts said it wasn't that easy.

The 13 condominium units are contemplated to go on the market in the $250,000 to $275,000 range and providing parking for owners becomes an important consideration. He said while such relief would be beneficial in one respect, it hurts in the ultimate marketability of the planned units.

"It's a Catch 22," Roberts told the board.

Part of the design problem confronting Hynes and his architect is the construction of the building, which has large beam trusses every 12 feet. These beams were used as the defining boundaries for the living units, requiring no changes in the building's construction. Roberts said that elimination of units effectively means requiring the incorporation of dead space within the building.

Among the concerns expressed by ZBA members was the tight turning areas within the enclosed parking areas. Greg Taylor, structural engineer for the project, explained that the layout of the parking garage came after numerous conversations with the town engineer through the site plan review process.

Roberts said that the proposal now before the board was developed through consultation with town and Business Improvement District officials and was not the initial concept forwarded by Hynes. The first proposal incorporated apartments along with a downstairs dinner theater/ performance area for upward of 275. Roberts said that conversations were held with staff at the Cape Cinema in Dennis regarding the conversion of the building back into a cinema, which was its original purpose when built in 1928.

All of those proposals were discarded in favor of the current plan based on conversations with local officials on what would be best for the street and within the concept of the mixed-use zoning district.

This is the first proposal of this scope for an existing building under the MA-1 zoning district, approved two years ago to encourage mixed residential and commercial uses in the downtown. The gas station and convenience store at the corner of North Street and High School Road extension includes three apartment units, but in a completely new structure.

Cynthia Cole, executive director of the Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District, asked that the board consider the structure and importance of the existing building to the downtown when considering the project.

Hynes bought the building three years ago and received praise from his neighbors for the work done in that time. West End businessman and property owner Joe Chilli described the West End Marketplace as a "heartbreak and a headache" over the last 20 years. Andi Carole, who bought the former West End Food Store four years ago and renovated it into a high-end clothing store, said that whenever she brought a problem to Hynes's attention it would be corrected within minutes.

While there remain issues to be resolved, ZBA member Ralph Copeland said that he was supportive of the concept, but had concerns about the intensity of the project.

The meeting was continued to Dec. 10, whenYt will share the docket with the Chapter 40B application of Williams Building Company for a 30-unit affordable housing project next to the Barnstable Horace Mann Charter School in Marstons Mills.

From The Barnstable Patriot

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A new character's coming to Main Street

Hyannis building would top off stores with three floors of condos

By Edward F. Maroney

Barnstable's first skyscraper is still quite a ways off, but plans for its first underground parking garage may be seen in a window at the corner of Ocean and Main streets in Hyannis.

Developer Robert Bradley wants to demolish the former Hibel Museum on the site and raise a four-story glass-and-brick building that would house a restaurant, shops and a theater on the ground floor below three floors of 24 condominiums. Parking for 34 vehicles would be tucked under the building.

Bradley has hired Sutphin Architects of Somerville, a company with significant experience crafting Boston-area projects, to design the building. The firm's principal, Niles Sutphin, makes his home in Centerville.

"I'm reasonably familiar with downtown Hyannis," he said Wednesday. "I think there's a need to pay a good deal of attention to the life and the longevity of Main Street in Hyannis, which I don't think has been given the potential to re-invent itself and keep itself vigorous."

From an "urban design point of view," the architect said, "I felt a very strong responsibility to provide a mixed-use development (by) providing commercial, retail and restaurant space on the ground floor of the building, which contributes to the life and the after-hours activity on Main Street."

The ground floor on the Main Street side will be recessed to create an overhang for shelter from the elements. The restaurant will take up the left corner, next to the three retail spaces.

Sutphin credited Bradley with the idea of putting a performance space behind the restaurant. If the plan survives review, the Shaughnessey Theatre, which has mounted several productions in the shell of the old building, could have a permanent home.

"I think Main Street needs some additional character to it," Sutphin said. "I thought this was appropriate for the main street of Hyannis, and I think it does simply add to the architectural character of the street itself."

From The Barnstable Patriot

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Land-taking plan irks Hyannis businesses

The town's idea to beef up its eminent domain powers doesn't sit well on Main Street.


STAFF WRITER | July 14, 2004

HYANNIS - The Barnstable Town Council has long had the power to force the sale of private property to the town for a municipal benefit - for land to build a road, a school, a fire department.

And like countless other American towns, as well as states and the federal government, Barnstable has occasionally exercised its authority of eminent domain.

Now a proposed expansion of the town's eminent domain powers within Hyannis has sparked panic among some Main Street business owners who fear they'll be swept away to make room for enterprises more attractive to the town.

"I can see the writing on the wall," said Tina Carey of Gringos Mexican Restaurant, on Main Street, who is organizing opposition to the proposal.

Town officials insist their proposed Community Development Board - empowered to recommend eminent domain actions to the council - would apply only to "blighted and underutilized properties."

"If I was sitting there with a property that didn't meet any of the state definitions of a blighted area, then I certainly wouldn't have anything to worry about," said Kevin Shea, director of the town's Office of Community and Economic Development.

State urban renewal laws define a "blighted open area" as "a predominantly open area which is detrimental to the safety, health, morals, welfare or sound growth of a community."

But Main Street property owners seem to want more than definition. They are clamoring for guarantees that their properties won't end up on the town's acquisition list.

"The collateral for my kids' college education, that's what this property means to me," said a woman who identified herself as an owner on the 600 block.

At this point, officials say they can't identify which properties the town would seek to buy.

First step: Renewal plan

The Community Development Board - as yet non-existent - must first draft a general urban renewal plan for downtown Hyannis, an area defined as all of Main Street from the West End Rotary to Yarmouth Road, and from Hyannis Harbor to the Airport Rotary.


This would identify structures to be demolished as well as those to be acquired for the purpose of private redevelopment.

Both the town council and the state Department of Housing and Community Development would have to approve the urban renewal plan.

The town council would then have to approve each eminent domain acquisition separately.

Trying to temper concern that the town would try to buy up all of Main Street, officials yesterday noted the financially strapped town would have to come up with the money to pay for any purchases. In an eminent domain action, the town must pay fair market value, as determined by at least two independent assessors.

Before that, the town must try to negotiate a voluntary sale.

"A last resort"

"Eminent domain is supposed to be a last resort in order to accomplish the goals of the plan," Shea said.

To take a property by eminent domain for urban renewal, the town must also demonstrate that the property is unlikely to be developed "through the ordinary operations of private enterprise."

Redevelopment agencies are common in cities and towns across the commonwealth, from Boston to Pittsfield, Newburyport to New Bedford. No Cape town has one, according to the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

Some redevelopment agencies take the form of authorities, while others, as in Hull, operate as community development boards, which have less autonomy.

The Barnstable council is scheduled to vote on the proposal tomorrow. The council will take public comment but will not act on several other proposals for revitalizing downtown Hyannis.

The board of the Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District supports the creation of the Community Development Board as part of the Hyannis Downtown Implementation Plan, according to Executive Director Cynthia Cole.

The creation of the development board and the expansion of the town's eminent domain powers would send the message that "this town is serious about redevelopment," Cole said.

Lynne Poyant of the Hyannis Area Chamber of Commerce, who is also a member of the town's Economic Development Commission, said the chamber has taken no position on the development board proposal.

From The Cape Cod Times

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Barnstable drops talk of Main St. land-taking


STAFF WRITER | July 15, 2004

HYANNIS - Facing angry opposition from downtown merchants, town officials abandoned an effort to expand their land-taking authority.

The town council was scheduled tonight to consider forming a redevelopment agency that would have the power to force commercial property owners to sell lots to the town for resale to developers.

After panicked Main Street merchants swore to "fight this to the end," Town Manager John Klimm withdrew the proposed Community Development Board from the council agenda.

"It was clear that there was strong opposition, so it seemed to make sense to move forward, not backward," he said. "We really do have public meetings to listen to people, and we listened."

Gringos Mexican Restaurant owner Tina Carey, a leading critic, expressed cautious optimism about the town's new tack.

"I can't be overwhelmed with joy until I investigate it, only because I don't trust them," she said. "It does sound encouraging."

As originally proposed, the development board would seek to replace unproductive real estate with new developments. But the eminent domain powers were a concern to many downtown shop owners, who feared they could lose their lots to more attractive businesses.

Klimm now intends to ask the council to form a "downtown policy cabinet" with purely advisory authority.

The cabinet members would be charged with producing a master plan for downtown Hyannis, which had 310,000 square feet of vacant or seasonal retail space as of early 2003.

The cabinet's members would represent the planning board, the economic development commission, the waterfront district, the Hyannis Civic Association, the business community and other groups, he said.

Hyannis master plan

Klimm took pains to distinguish the master plan from the urban renewal plan the development board would have produced.

Unlike the board, the cabinet would have no authority to recommend eminent domain actions and the town council no power to approve them.

The master plan is also not subject to approval by the state, as the urban renewal plan would have been. And while the CDB, once formed, would exist indefinitely, the cabinet would disband after one year.

Both organizations would seek the same goal, however, namely the revitalization of downtown Hyannis.

In particular, town planners want make Hyannis' downtown attractive to developers of office space and dwellings, keeping the businesses off Routes 28 and 132. They want people to live downtown in apartments or condominiums built above storefronts, increasing foot traffic on Main Street.

Klimm said he could not anticipate whether a state-sanctioned development board - which would expand the council's eminent domain powers - might be proposed again in the future. This would depend on the contents of the master plan, he said.

Town Council President Gary Brown left no doubt that it was possible.

"If we want to add the eminent domain later," he said, "we will. But it's not being done at this time."

No Cape towns have redevelopment agencies, but they exist in cities and towns across the state and the country, including Boston, Brockton, Somerville, Hull, and Newburyport.

Angry business owners

Yesterday Carey and other angry business owners interrupted Klimm's presentation about the proposed board to the town's Economic Development Commission, demanding the right to ask questions rather than listen to the presentation. Then she and several others stormed out of the council chambers and headed to Gringos for a meeting of their own.

One enraged man who did not identify himself, but left with Carey, shouted on his way out, "Just so you know, you're not going to take our property rights away from us. We're going to fight this to the end."

After yesterday's meeting, the Economic Development Commission declined to endorse the eminent domain provision.

"We feel the board is a good idea, but due to the concerns expressed, we think there should be an intermediate process first," said commission member Donald Megathlin.

The council already has the authority to force the sale of private property to the town for a municipal benefit, such as a school or a road.

Under state redevelopment laws, towns can also take property, to encourage redevelopment of "blighted" parts of town forsaken by the private sector. As in other eminent domain takings, the town must pay fair market value.

From The Cape Cod Times

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Hyannis condo project put on hold

November 19, 2004

HYANNIS - Developer Robert Bradley has withdrawn his request to raze the Shaughnessey Theater at the corner of Ocean and Main streets, putting on hold his plans to build a 29-unit mixed-use condominium complex on the site.

Bradley withdrew his application Wednesday after learning the Hyannis Main Street Waterfront Historic District Commission was unlikely to approve it.

The proposed project, One Ocean Street Condominiums, would be Main Street's largest mixed-use residential complex, and would include Cape Cod's first underground parking garage.

Yesterday Bradley, who owns several restaurants on Main Street, said he probably will submit a revised proposal for consideration.

The largest existing mixed-use residential building on Main Street has 13 dwellings.

Bradley bought the Shaughnessey Theater and an adjacent empty lot for $1.05 million in July 2003.

The latest plans for the condominium project show that it would cover both lots.

From The Cape Cod Times

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