Published in the August 15, 2019 edition.


WAKEFIELD — After four months of hearings, the old mill building that stands at the corner of Albion and Foundry streets is about to enter its next incarnation as a 184-unit, mid-rise apartment building.

The Zoning Board of Appeals last night voted 4-1 to grant the Special Permits and made the necessary findings that will allow the Ohio-based NRP Group to expand and convert the current office building into a combination of one- and two-bedroom apartments. The ZBA decision also encompasses the parking garage across Foundry Street as well as a parking lot on Maple Street with a combined 865 parking spaces.

The lone “no” vote was ZBA member Ami Wall, who objected to the height of the building.

NRP is a developer, builder and property management company based in Cleveland with a regional office in Burlington.

NRP’s plans involve adding three levels to the office building that runs along Foundry Street for a total of six stories of residential apartments. There will be 122 one-bedroom units and 62 two-bedroom apartments.

The project represents a major facelift for Foundry Street, with the ZBA insisting on improvements and upgrades even beyond those proposed by NRP. The approved plan includes landscape improvements and other enhancements on both sides of Foundry Street along the property.

As part of the project, NRP will also provide and pay for $500,000 worth of improvements to the town’s infrastructure, the developer’s local attorney Brian McGrail noted last night.

Those improvements include replacing and increasing the size of a water main on Foundry Street between Albion Street and Maple Street. The work will also include replacing the existing service to the property.

NRP will also replace the brick sidewalks abutting the property along Foundry Street and adjacent to the parking garage across the street. In addition, handicapped curb ramps at the Foundry Street/Albion Street intersection and the Foundry Street/Maple Street intersection will be replaced at NRP’s expense.

In addition, NRP will make a $30,000 contribution to the town to be used to improve traffic conditions and other infrastructure in the project area, McGrail noted. Another $100,000 will be provided to the town by NRP for sewage improvements anywhere in town at the discretion of the Department of Public Works.

The ZBA decision includes a 24 conditions governing various aspects of the project and construction. One condition prohibits deliveries of materials to the construction site between the hours of 7-9 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. when students may be walking to and from the Galvin Middle School.

In accordance with the town’s inclusionary zoning bylaw, 18 percent of the units will be designated as affordable units. Of the 33 affordable units, 22 will be one-bedroom and 11 will be two-bedroom units. Preference for affordable units will be given to Wakefield residents.

McGrail noted that the project will allow the historic building to preserved into perpetuity. Built in 1897, it was originally the home of the Harvard Knitting Mills, a garment manufacturing company owned by Elizabeth Boit of Wakefield. At its height in the 1920s the firm employed 850 workers and produced more than 20,000 garments daily.

In the mid-1950s the building became home to Transitron Corporation, a manufacturer of semiconductors. In recent years, it has been used for offices and research and development.

A construction schedule provided by NRP calls for work to begin in December of this year and finish in August of 2021.