By SCOTT JACKSON
A shopping center with five storefronts is expected to open later this year in the Quincy Point building that had long been home to a car dealership.
The Planning Board on Jan. 11 unanimously approved the plan to renovate the existing 18,000 square foot building at 479 Washington St. into a shopping center. The site, located at the intersection of Washington Street and Southern Artery, was home Tom O’Brien for 40 years until it was sold to the Prime Motor Group,
The former dealership will be renovated into the new shopping center, a project that will take about nine months to complete, according to Patrick Cleary, a principal with developer FX/Harborlight.
The parking lot formerly used by the dealership will be reconfigured as part of the project, and 60 parking spaces will be available on site. The number of curb cuts on site will be reduced to three – entrances/exits on Beacon Street and Southern Artery and an entrance only on Washington Street. A new curb would also be installed on Bessie Street, where currently there is none.
ConvenientMD, an urgent care clinic, plans to lease about 5,000 square feet of space in the new shopping center. Verizon Wireless also intends to locate a store on site to replace its former shop at 480 Southern Artery. The developers hope to find a bank to move into the former showroom space – it would not be a full-service branch, but rather one that only offers products such as mortgages and loans. The remaining two tenants have yet to be identified.
The project had been before the Planning Board twice – in October and December – before receiving approval Jan. 11.
The signage for the urgent care clinic had been a point of contention at both prior meetings. The developers initially sought approval for a 170-square foot sign on the front of the building; the city’s regulations allow for a sign of up to 80 square feet. The Planning Department had asked that the ConvenientMD sign be reduced to 100 square feet, but the company would only go to 140 square feet prior to the December meeting before agreeing to the 100-square-foot sign on Wednesday.
“That’s how bad they want to be in the city of Quincy,” said Robert Harnais, an attorney for the developers. “The sign will be 100 square feet, instead of what they were looking for.”
ConvenientMD has also agreed to maintain the Ted and Betty DeCristofaro Park, which is located on the opposite side of Washington St., for five years.
“This is something above and beyond what they’re required to do,” Harnais said. “Since they’re going to be the dominant tenant there, they want to make sure they can fix everything and make everything look good and up to the city’s standards.”
The applicants will also work with the city as it renovates the Fore River Clubhouse, Harnais added.
The developers have also agreed to pay for a road safety audit at the intersection of Washington Street and Southern Artery, and fund up to $15,000 worth of improvements to the intersection as recommended by the audit.
Following the meeting, Ward 2 Councillor Brad Croall said he welcomed the addition of the development to the neighborhood.
“I’m very happy with the way the discussion happened between the residents, the applicant and the Planning Board. It showed that everyone was willing to work together. I’m excited to refresh this particular parcel, and this section of Quincy Point,” Croall said.
“I believe this project will put forth an image we are all trying to capture along the gateway to our city. I’m also pleased with the project team’s willingness to invest in the community via DeCristofaro Park and the Fore River Clubhouse. It is very clear that they want to be involved in our community and we’re excited to have them.”