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Developer Explores Market-Rate Apartment Idea for Route 44 Parcel

September 21, 2016 Community, Government, Planning and Zoning No Comments

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-8-29-41-pmBy John Fitts

CANTON — Developer Arthur Godbout Jr. is exploring the idea of setting the stage for a market-rate apartment project on a 7.286-acre parcel at 361 Albany Turnpike (Route 44).

Godbout came to Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday night for a pre-application – or informal – review of the idea, which he hopes to market to larger developers.

Godbout presented a preliminary concept that included an idea for approximate 144 units in four, four-story buildings complete with 185 parking spaces, including 64 garages spaces, and amenities such as a pool. The buildings would likely be close to Route 44, with the parking in the rear – a trend the town is moving toward with the upcoming form-based code regulations.

Godbout developed the idea with the help of other area professionals including Canton engineer Tom Shannon.

Such a project would greatly help Canton achieve more house diversity and provide much-needed rental housing for young people or the elderly on limited incomes, Godbout said.

Godbout said the project would involve, at a huge expense, bringing utilities to that section of Route 44, something he called of huge benefit to the town, area homes and other potential business ventures.

Godbout clarified that he would not be the ultimate developer on the project, but said the hope was to attract a regional or even international firm that specializes in such projects. It would be a complex project and he reiterated that his ideas were preliminary.

“There might be a market for a market-rate, a very much upscale, apartment project,” he said, telling the commission that commercial interest in his several Canton properties has been slow. “We’re simpy trying to get approval to go out to market and see if there’s demand for this project.”

However, there are a couple of challenges to moving forward. Under the current regulations, Godbout could pursue a design district, which involves developing a Master Plan for the property, a process that would consider development characteristics with an eye toward design as well as the town’s historic, cultural and geographic qualities.

Alternatively, Godbout could wait for the commission to finalize its Form Based Codes, a set of regulations that emphasize physical form over the traditional zoning idea of separating types of uses. The town is working on such a plan for areas of town, including much of Route 44.

Commissioners said it was reasonable to think those could be adopted in the next 6 to 9 months.

Neil S. Pade, the town’s director of planning and community development said Godbout was working in a way that would align with the new standards.

“Mr. Godbout has some ideas on how to use his property in a matter that would be consistent with the form base code we’re working on,” Pade said early in the meeting.

Commission chairman Jonathan Thiesse said the only way for Godbout to have assurance to market the idea would be to pursue the design district or wait for the code to be in place. However, Thiesse and other commissioners were amenable to the idea.

“The general reaction is positive,” Thiesse said.

Godbout said he was encouraged by the commission’s overall reaction but said he would have to think about how exactly to move forward.

He also reiterated that he feels the project would benefit Canton in many ways – particularly with the utilities and the housing stock.

“I think overall they seemed positive on it and it’s good for Canton,” he said.

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