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Mixed-Use Project Could Boost Downtown

Plans for the building include up to 80 condo units and 6,000 square feet of commercial space.

The corner of South Main and Wall streets could soon be the site of a mixed-use development that local leaders say will be a major part of the revitalization of the city's downtown. The Attleboro Redevelopment Authority and Mansfield-based Crunagle Properties finalized an agreement last week for the development of a six-story building featuring condos and commercial space.

Construction of the $6.8 million development could begin in July. The preliminary plans call for underground parking, 6,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor and up to 80 condo units on the remaining floors, with at least five units designated as affordable housing.

ARA board Chair Judy Robbins and Mayor Kevin Dumas announced the agreement to an enthusiastic City Council on Tuesday. Robbins said Crunagle would purchase the ARA-owned property for $1.024 million, with $494,000 coming from a federal housing grant via the city. Two-thirds of that money would be transferred from the ARA to the city as part of its promise to return money the municipality had paid to cover the agency's legal defeats.

"We are delighted that we are going to be able to start paying of this debt, and we hope that we will do many other things to pay off the debt in the next couple of years," Robbins told the council.

The project deal is called a "land disposition agreement." Among its features, Robbins said, is a requirement for Crunagle to construct the building based on Attleboro's urban renewal plan.

"We are getting the kind of building that I think the people who put together this urban renewal plan thought about, the kind they hoped for, the kind that it looked like maybe we wouldn't get along the way, but we are very, very pleased," she said.

Robbins said Crunagle will spend the next four to six months finalizing the architectural plans. The developer will need to obtain permits from various city entities, including the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board.

She said a closing on the purchase will likely take place in June. The property is contaminated, so there are environmental issues, including the need for an "activity and use limitation" statement that Robbins said would probably include a prohibition on growing vegetables and children digging dirt, among other features.

Dumas called the project "the first step in the recovery" of the ARA. It is an agency that has been plagued by various setbacks, including lawsuits and near-bankruptcy. One year ago, this property was nearly forced into the hands of a court-appointed receiver.

City Councilor Richard Conti, who has been one of the ARA's toughest critics, said he was pleased with the news.

"This truly is a robust effort during this economy," he said. "It's a remarkable Phoenix rising out of the ashes, proverbially, and I think in this case the ARA is executing a plan that is exactly what it was intended to do."

Mike B September 27, 2012 at 11:42 AM
On the corner of South Main and Wall St. talk about a logistical nightmare. Wall St. is short. How are the roads in that area going to support the additional influx. It is a nightmare already when the commuters are leaving that parking lot. South Main bends at a 90 degree angle. Plus 80 condos. Please think this thing through the last thing this city needs is another vacant albatross.
Daniel F. Devine September 27, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Robbins is "DELIGHTED." Our lifetime mayor says: "THE PROJECT IS THE FIRST STEP IN THE RECOVERY OF THE A.R.A.". Conti is pleased with another boondoggle in the works, calling it: "TRULY A ROBUST EFFORT". I say: One step forward & many more lawsuits on the horizon. CONTAMINATED PROPERTY, ENVIROMENTAL ISSUES, TRAFFIC ISSUES.
Bear Cat September 27, 2012 at 09:12 PM
I'm amazed of how many people have no idea what they are talking about! Do your homework then comment.
Richard Conti September 27, 2012 at 09:54 PM
I maintain the opinion that if a developer is willing to invest nearly $6 million in an Attleboro improvement, they deserve my consideration rather than immediate opposition. This plan faces three large challenges: 1) the ecconomy presents significant financing risk, 2)80 housing units is major expansion for downtown not likely to be immediately occupied and 3)the site needs environmental work before construction subject ot the acceptance of professionals. The project is big. I hope everything goes well.
Neal September 30, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Tough one in this economy. I also agree this area is far too small for such a huge structure. The infrastructure simply cannot accommodate this, but of course with this type of money on the table they will do all they can to force it through. Typical ARA - big ideas, no results.
G. Dub October 02, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Well put Mike!...I bid them the best of their efforts, and if they ever need a reminder of what short sightedness means, I am sure some of those new condos will have a breathtaking view of where the old Attleboro Barn once stood, Which I think was a shame to see go. As for what rests there now......?
G. Dub October 02, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Mr. Conti, I like the cut of your jib. If more folks thought the way you do, who knows? It is good to see a constructive thought process on a project with such innate malodies, and I hope it comes to great benifit to our city.
blueskies October 02, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Not only does the developer think this is a feasible project, he has indicated he wants the opportunity to be involved in more near the site. Remember the Commuter traffic is being re routed and will not always be coming out at the same spot as it does today. Wall Street is also under reconstruction. The river view is being openned up. Sounds like a great deal of thinking has gone into these plans going back MANY years.
Jerry Chase March 07, 2013 at 10:39 PM
I wonder what the formula that is used to calculate the number of needed parking spaces for the aforementioned 80 units, plus a percentage additonal for visitors. If the factor is 1.5 (and I'm purely guessing here), this is 120 spaces, plus a fair 10% for visitors. This totals 132 parking spaces. This is substantial in terms of needed square feet, plus at least two potential access points for public safety vehicles . . . again, reasonable guessing. I haven't seen the 'plans', yet.

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