By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — They’re back.
Shelter Development, LLC, whose proposal earlier this year to construct a Brightview assisted living facility in conjunction with a parking garage in the downtown area stirred months of controversy before being defeated at the polls and at Town Meeting, has filed a new application for a 137 unit assisted living facility at approximately the same location.
The application was filed with the Building Department on Tuesday by Shelter Development, LLC of Baltimore. Shelter Development and Brightview Senior Living are both companies that are owned and operated by the Shelter Group, a privately held real estate development and property management company specializing in multifamily and senior living communities.
The applicant has requested a public hearing on the new application before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday, Oct. 8. Attorney Brian McGrail represents Shelter Development in its new application. McGrail was also the attorney for the previous application.
Like the earlier proposal, the newly proposed Brightview Assisted Living facility would be located on premises now owned by the Fraen Corporation and would include 338 Main St. as well as 11, 15, 17, 19, 21 and 25 Crescent St. The Crescent Street addresses are residential properties owned by the Fraen Corporation. The 338 Main St. office building is located behind the Wakefield Co-operative Bank.
Unlike the earlier proposal, the new facility would be built entirely on property currently owned by the Fraen Corporation and would not incorporate any town-owned property, nor would it include a parking garage for public use.
The application states that the premises affected are land with frontage of 534 feet on Crescent Street with a combined total land area of 68,819 square feet.
The submitted application seeks a Special Permit and Site Plan Approval to allow the proposed Brightview assisted living facility.
The new application is the latest chapter on a story that that dates back to 2012 when Annual Town Meeting voted to create an Assisted Living Overlay District in the downtown.
The Shelter Group expressed an interest in building an assisted living facility on property purchased from the Fraen Corporation including 338 Main St. as well as several residential properties on Crescent Street. The town approached The Shelter Group in 2013 about adding a town-owned lot behind the Cooperative Bank to their plans. The Shelter Group was receptive to a deal whereby the town would convey the land and The Shelter Group would construct a parking garage with public spaces in conjunction with a 140-unit Brightview assisted living facility.
Last February, a Special Town Meeting approved the deal by the necessary two-thirds majority. However, a group of local citizens collected the more than 200 signatures needed to force a town-wide election on April 1. The land conveyance that was key to the garage proposal was defeated in that election.
On the night of the election, the anti-garage group submitted a petition signed by 11 voters to remove the land in question from the assisted living overlay district and effectively preclude the future building of any assisted living facility on the site. That petition became Article 1 at last May’s Annual Town Meeting.
But a second citizens’ petition signed by hundreds of voters in favor of the combined assisted living facility and parking garage sought to revisit the original proposal at Town Meeting. That petition became Article 2.
The article to eliminate the Assisted Living Overlay District was defeated at Town Meeting, preserving options for a future proposal.
Those who favored the combined assisted living/garage proposal were also in the majority on Article 2, with the final vote tallied at 459-377. But those who favored the garage came up 99 votes short of the two-thirds majority required to convey the town-owned land that was key to the garage proposal.
Since the proposed project was predicated on the land conveyance, the failure to receive the necessary two-thirds majority at Town Meeting effectively killed that project.
There has been speculation in the ensuing months as to whether or not Shelter/Brightview would come back with a new proposal. That question was finally answered this week in the affirmative.