Published March 31, 2021


WAKEFIELD — A long-blighted site in the downtown will be getting a facelift.

A new Santander Bank building will be constructed at 500 Main St., after the Zoning Board of Appeals last week granted the needed Special Permits and other relief. The site at the corner of Main and Richardson streets had been vacant for years. It was once the location of a used car dealership and an auto parts store. 

The new bank will be built on property owned by Robert Santonelli and leased to Santander, which will move from its current location at Main and Chestnut streets.

THIS SITE AT 500 Main St. (corner of Main and Richardson streets) will be the future location of a Santander Bank branch. (Mark Sardella Photo)

There was some discussion at last week’s final hearing on the project regarding how the project would fit in with the upcoming Envision Wakefield downtown upgrade and the future Rail Trail, which would run behind the bank site.

It was noted that cars leaving the bank parking lot will be prohibited from turning left on Main Street by a median planned as part of the Envision project. However, vehicles wishing to head to Greenwood or the West Side will be able to turn left on Armory Street.

The sidewalk on Main Street in front of the bank will be widened and the sidewalk on the Richardson Street side will be moved off its present location on Santonelli’s property onto town property.

Representing Santonelli, attorney Brian McGrail noted that all sidewalk and infrastructure improvements will be done at his client’s expense.

There was further discussion at last week’s hearing regarding the lot just to the north of the future bank site, which is also owned by Santonelli. McGrail assured the board that if the other lot is not immediately developed, it would be seeded with a drought-tolerant mix with plantings along the main Street side.

But ZBA member Chip Tarbell said that his concern was more about what would be planted in between the two lots. McGrail and Santonelli agreed to install plantings along the border border between the two lots.

Board member Jim McBain wanted street trees to be planted along the Main Street sidewalk. He said that if the idea was to make that tired section of Main Street look more like other parts of the downtown, street trees should be planted to beautify the area. But McGrail was concerned that trees might conflict with the Envision Wakefield project. Town Engineer Bill Renault was brought into the meeting to discuss street trees.

Renault noted that extra wide sidewalks were planned in that area to get people to the Rail Trail. He was concerned that there wouldn’t be sufficient room in the sidewalk for healthy trees to thrive in that area. He proposed putting one tree on each corner of Richardson Street to achieve some of the desired effect. He agreed to look at the possibility of another tree in front of the bank.

The ZBA and McGrail reviewed a list of conditions for the project, which will include limits to when delivery trucks may come and go in order to avoid the hours that children are arriving at the Galvin Middle School in the morning or leaving in the afternoon.

The ZBA voted unanimously to grant the requested Special Permits and made the necessary findings to allow the project to move forward.