One of the most significant developments ever in the East Bay – the conversion of the former Tourist luggage mill complex on Warren’s waterfront into a combination of residential and commercial space – goes in front of a public information meeting tonight.
The Warren Planning Board is hosting the 7 pm meeting. It takes place in the Council Chambers in Warren Town Hall.
“It will give just about anyone a chance to comment on the plan,” said Caroline Wells, director of planning and community development for Warren.
The latest plan for the mill complex across the river from Barrington's Mathewson Road neighborhood will be presented by representatives of Tourister Mill LLC, a partnership of Brady Sullivan of Manchester, N.H., and Starr Development Partners LLC of Belmont, Mass.
The partnership purchased the former luggage complex last spring from Meredith Associates, which had received master plan approval for a previous application to turn it into housing.
Sullivan and Starr, therefore, are seeking approval for an "amended master plan," said Wells.
The new application for the complex shows the creation of 300 one- and two-bedroom market-rate apartments on the second and third floors and “penthouse-type apartments” on a fourth floor that will be added to the building. Those penthouses will overlook downtown Warren and Barrington.
The first floor will be made up of commercial tenants – primarily retail shops, restaurants and light manufacturing. Housing is not allowed on the first floor because the building sits in a flood zone.
The formal application also shows the addition of a “boardwalk” to run along the Warren River. There will be “parking inside the buildings,” Wells said.
The plan also shows several acres of green space and a new seawall. The current seawall needs repairs even without a boardwalk, she said.
Wells said she anticipates that the exterior walls will be re-pointed and given a cosmetic makeover as well.
Approval for the amended master plan could come as early as the planning board’s February meeting, said Wells.
Getting preliminary approval after that could take several months longer, she said. That’s where most of the engineering and design review will take place.
The developers anticipate completing the entire project in two phases by sometime late next year – considered an ambitious timetable.
The developers plan to use historic tax credits and private funding to create the new complex, said Wells. And they plan to manage the property after it is completed.
The project includes the razing of two buildings – one to the east of the main building that has seen serious decay over the years, Wells said. Other than the fourth floor penthouses, there will be no new buildings constructed.