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Rte. 20 commercial project moves forward

METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – Plans for a sprawling commercial development on Rte. 20 took a step forward Tuesday, as the Urban Affairs Committee signed off on a zoning overlay district for the project.

Proposed for the south side of Rte. 20 to the west of Glen Street, the 475,000-square-foot Apex Center of New England is slated to feature two hotels, office buildings, restaurants and an indoor recreation and entertainment complex. Hyatt has committed to build a 237-room hotel at the site, while 110 Grille plans to construct a restaurant.

Arthur Bergeron, who is representing the developers, characterized the project as a tremendous draw for the city and visitors. The land brings the city about $45,000 in tax revenue. If developed, it would bring in upwards of $1.3 million.

As part of the overlay district committee members approved, eligible uses for the property include medical offices and laboratories, retail sales and services, hotels, public or private commercial recreation establishments, offices, brew pubs, health and fitness clubs, up to two drive-thru facilities associated with banks and pharmacies and two more drive-thrus associated with food services.

Hotel guests may not occupy rooms for more than six months in a calendar year without a valid employment contract, according to the zoning overlay district.

“We just don’t want people using this as a primary residence,” said Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Delano.

The overlay district also allows dry cleaning facilities, veterinary hospitals, car washes and self-service laundry businesses by special permit.

All other uses, including housing, adult entertainment, tattoo parlors and retail gasoline, oil and lubrication stations, are prohibited in the overlay district.

“We’ve come to a good place,” said Delano.

The full City Council is expected to vote on the overlay district in the coming weeks.

A master concept plan, which includes signage, parking, landscaping and traffic plans, as well as where each building will be located, and a development agreement must also be approved by the Urban Affairs Committee and City Council before construction can begin.

The development agreement has been filed with the city and the master concept plan is expected to be finalized and submitted to the city in a week, said Bergeron. The Urban Affairs Committee is expected to discuss those issues soon.

Urban Affairs Committee member Peter Juaire expressed some concerns about the strain the project will put on public safety officials and said the committee and developers will have to look into that as the process moves along.

The developers hope to begin construction sometime in June, said Bergeron.

This article by Jeff Malachowski originally appeared here.