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Developers aiming to revitalize Love Lane building seek expedited site plan review

The owners of a long vacant building on Love Lane have asked the town Planning Board to consider expediting their site plan review process, citing the project as a redevelopment and not a new project.

Local developer Charles Salice and business partner Mark Miller have been aiming to revitalize the former Capital One Bank building since they purchased it for $1.7 million in December 2017.

Their current vision for the building, which has 17,500 square feet of space on three levels, includes a restaurant, ground floor retail area and cellar restaurant service area. Two retail spaces are proposed for the second floor ,along with one residential affordable apartment.

When the partners applied for a building permit in April, the town building department called on the Planning Board to determine whether a new site plan would be required for the redevelopment of the property. A new site plan was deemed necessary, but the Planning Board is considering an expedited review process.

At a work session Monday, planning officials outlined a tentative process and timeline for the expedited application. The applicant has already submitted detailed site plans for the building, which show that the footprint will remain the same as interior conversions are made.

Exterior improvements would include painting the existing brick facade, installing new cornice along the perimeter of the roof, replacing windows and awnings and making landscaping and paving improvements in an existing alleyway and along the street. An existing rear parking area would be used.

Mr. Salice said the vision for the property was always to redevelop it into a mixed-use building, particularly because finding a tenant for such a large space proved challenging.

Because of the mixed use, potential issues with the septic system also had to be worked out. “We needed flow and density for the property,” he explained in an interview Tuesday. 

Sanitary flow credits were purchased and Mr. Salice said the health department has issued a permit, which planning officials requested confirmation of.

At Monday’s work session, Mr. Salice pointed out that he’s been waiting more than six years to move forward with plans for the property. “We’ve been very patient,” he said. “I think it would help Love Lane as well. It’s been vacant for a long time. I walk down there and the merchants say to me all the time, ‘When are you going to do something with that?’ And I’m like, ‘Really, I wish I could.’ ”

As planning staff reviewed the proposal, they reiterated that the streetscape and character of Love Lane are important to consider throughout the approval process.

“It is a very small road, but an icon,” said planner Mark Terry.

“I wouldn’t want it to be out of character,” Mr. Salice said. “I think it looks out of character now.” 

Town planner Brian Cummings said that once a site plan application is formally submitted for board review, there are several ways to expedite the process, such as deciding whether or not to seek comment from other agencies like the town’s engineering department or Architectural Review Board, and considering waiving a public hearing.

“The potential timeline could be relatively quick,” Mr. Cummings said. “We can do this within probably 30 to 60 days depending on if there’s revisions required.”

Though the process has spanned six years, Mr. Salice said he remains passionate about redeveloping the property. “Having that building empty is not what we ever envisioned and we hope to bring it together and make it an iconic building on Love Lane,” he said.

Over the years, Mr. Salice said he’s been approached by multiple prospective tenants for both the proposed restaurant and retail spaces. “We’ve had tremendous interest — and we continue to have interest. The problem is we can’t commit to anyone until we get over the finish line.”