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Proposal for Watertown's Haartz-Mason Site Gets Final OK

Proposal for Watertown's Haartz-Mason Site Gets Final OK

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Published by Laura Maas

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Published by: Laura Maas on Mar 25, 2011
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Proposal for Watertown's Haartz-Mason site gets final OK


The abandoned Haartz Mason building on Pleasant Street is proposed to be redeveloped into a two-building apartment complex.

By Laura Paine Wicked Local Watertown Posted Mar 03, 2011 @ 12:00 PM WATERTOWN — The Haartz-Mason building was once considered “one of the worst eyesores in Watertown,” but the Conservation Commission has given the final O.K. to turn it into an apartment complex. On March 2, the commission unanimously approved the project for the apartment complex proposed by the Bedford-based real estate company Criterion Development Partners, which would replace the abandoned Haartz-Mason factory and kick-start the long-term design plan for the Pleasant Street corridor. Commissioner Marylouise Pallotta McDermott said the only information that “disturbs” her is the groundwater report. Commissioner Maria Rose shared her concern because it was not clear that surface water samples had been collected and tested. “Our charge is the River Front Protection Act and Wetlands Protection Act,” McDermott said. “Protection of the Charles River is something we have paramount concern for.” The development team assured the commission that the contamination levels were below the criteria for risk, but the commission approved the plan with the special condition that the outfalls are sampled before construction and quarterly thereafter in order to get the certificate of compliance. The newest proposal includes 170 units consistent of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, which would each cost approximately $2 per square foot. A total of 17 units will be made affordable. CDP, and architecture firm Cube 3 Studio of Lawrence, proposed a plan to replace the decrepit structures with two apartment buildings, retail space and a “really wonderful streetscape.” “The proposed plan will restore the buffer along the bike path and the location will allow residents to take advantage of the natural amenities of the river, the proximity to the restaurants and shops in Watertown Square and the commuting options of the bike path and bus lines all without needing to rely on a car,” CDP Vice President Heather Boujoulian said. The proposed five-story, U-shaped building would include a raised courtyard facing the Charles River and increased access to the bike paths. The building would have a grade-level parking garage with 189 spaces beneath the 139 residential units. It would include a clubhouse with a gym for renters and other rooms for meetings and events. The second building would be constructed in the parking lot at Pleasant Street and Howard Street. The four-story building would also house a grade level-parking garage with 45 spaces, 35 residential units and feature a retail space. Four of the garage parking spaces in addition to 11 outdoor parking spaces would be made available for retail customers during operating hours. “It’s a great location for an ice cream or coffee shop,” Cube 3 Studio Architect Brian O’Connor said. “This is a great opportunity to take advantage of the river, improve access and help activate this whole area that could really use some activity. It could be a really meaningful place.” For more than 70 years, Haartz-Mason Inc., a manufacturer of roofing and auto-top fabrics, employed dozens of immigrant families. But the mill closed in 1993 and soon became a haven for teen vandals and the homeless, neighbors say. Fires in 2004 and 2007 further damaged the building’s weakening structure and increased neighborhood calls that it be razed before someone wandered in and was badly hurt or killed. Parking will not be visible from Pleasant Street except through the door of the garage and a variety of flowers, bushes and trees would be planted around the property, which Boujoulian said will make the building look less like a blank, brick wall. CDP has also agreed to provide Charlie Cards to any resident who wants one to encourage use of public transportation. There will be extra space in the garage for residents to keep their bicycles and CDP will provide rental bicycles for complex residents to encourage use of the bike path. CDP has made an agreement with the Department of Conservation and Recreation to maintain a portion of the bike path behind the building along the river.


Extra storage will be created beneath the building for floodwaters that will go through a filtration system before it is released back into the environment. Laura Paine can be reached at lpaine@wickedlocal.com. Copyright 2011 Watertown TAB. Some rights reserved


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