By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — The ZBA this week got a look at some enhancements along the highway-facing side of Cabot Cabot & Forbes’ planned 440-unit apartment complex at 200-220 Quannapowitt Parkway. The project will consist of three buildings and will include a restaurant on the former site of American Mutual and Comverse Technologies.
The building that will be located closest to the highway had drawn the attention of board members, who were less than impressed with the look of the highway facing side, a large portion of which is a multi-level, open-air parking garage. Board members thought that side of the building looked stark and not residential. They had previously asked the design team to come up with ways to make that side of the building more appealing.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Eric Samuelson, an architect from design firm Cube3, displayed renderings showing balconies and facades on the residential section that matched the other side of the building. But when it came to the garage portion of the highway facing side, the reviews from board members were mixed.
Samuelson displayed a rendering that showed a series of vertical fins of different lengths spaced along the length of the garage to break up the uniformity and add texture. But board members seemed somewhat puzzled by this design element.
ZBA Chairman David Hatfield said that to him the pattern of the added vertical strips looked “random.” Samuelson responded that the randomness was by design.
Board member Greg McIntosh wondered if it would look better with more of the vertical strips. But project manager Matt Damico from CC&F said that they were trying to avoid using so many of the strips that they would block airflow and necessitate mechanically venting the garage.
ZBA member Chip Tarbell said that the arrangement of the strips “looks like they forgot something.” He asked about the possibility of some type of mesh covering that wouldn’t block airflow into the open sides of the garage. But Samuelson felt that that would result in more of an “urban” look that wouldn’t fit the natural surroundings.
Board member Jim McBain said that he wasn’t bothered by the “randomness” of the pattern and believed that more of the strips could be added without interfering with ventilation.
McIntosh asked about the possibility of some kind of textured precast material for the garage facade to add texture.
Damico said that the trees that will be planned in front of the garage would do a lot to improve the look of the building from the highway. Board members liked the idea of doing more with landscaping and trees as well as the texture of the highway-facing facade of the garage.
Damico reviewed with the board a phasing plan for construction. The board delayed discussion of the operation and maintenance plan until their next meeting.
There was a discussion of the location of public amenities such as bathrooms. As a result of a subcommittee discussion, some of the amenities such as the bathrooms and the public safety satellite office were relocated on the plan to provide space where public and private elements of the project can mesh. Damico said that they were trying to make the area between the buildings and the Lake more welcoming and planned to provide outdoor wifi service so that people can use their electronic devices on the lawn area.
When the hearing was openned to the public, Dennis Cloherty of 1 Harvest Road attempted to discuss water flow and drainage. But board members said that those topics should be addressed through the Conservation Commission and the Town Engineer.
The ZBA continued the hearing to the May 25 meeting, when the board will further discuss updates to the garage, operation and maintenance plan and public amenities.