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Stone Ridge Still Looking for Tenants

The Gutierrez Company of Burlington has been working on trying to attract a major "anchor" tenant for its proposed 625,000 square foot commercial park – the Stone Ridge Corporate Center off Deer St. from Cedar St. (Rt. 85) near the Rt. I-495 on-ramp – for almost a decade. The Planning Board gave its initial site plan approval to the project back in April, 2008. Last month, company officials met with the Planning Board to see if it would be open to other types of tenants.

"Unfortunately, we've been unsuccessful to date in securing a first-class office user to initiate our project," Douglas Fainelli, Vice President of Operations, wrote to the board in a June 17 letter. "Since the initial permitting process," he wrote, "requirements for new build-to-suit commercial office space construction within the I-495 market area has been virtually non-existent."

The Gutierrez Company wants to change its strategy, Fainelli noted. "We firmly believe the project will require mixed-use zoning rather than a traditional commercial office park," he said. Fainelli pointed to the success of such developments in Littleton, Burlington and Marlboro – saying they blend office space with other uses such as hotels, fitness centers, supermarkets, movie theatres, full-service restaurants and retail shops.

To that end, local attorney Ernest Pettinari, representing the Gutierrez Company asked board members on June 21 whether they would be open to him working with Town Planner Larry Dunkin to come up with a Zoning By-law amendment to allow broader uses in Milford's Office Park (OP) zoning districts. In particular, he pointed to the interest of the Restaurant Depot chain to open one of its wholesale restaurant supply centers in Stone Ridge.

Board Chairman Patrick Kennelly said that he felt retail uses in an OP zone were not appropriate, but he could consider some type of distribution operation. Board member Marble Mainini said he was familiar with the Restaurant Depot concept, terming it more of a wholesale distribution to its restaurant members only, and not something open to the general public. Board member Joseph Calagione said that because a Zoning By-law amendment applies to the whole town, and not just Stone Ridge, he was concerned about specific use changes.

Calagione was open to having Pettinari work with Dunkin, but suggested they update the board often. "I don't want you to go too far," he said.

Pettinari said the original traffic studies for Stone Ridge as an office park were updated to show how allowing a Restaurant Depot store would affect traffic in and out of the development. "We think it compares favorably," he said, with less traffic on weekdays and added traffic on Saturdays.

Larry Cohen, president of the College Point, N.Y.-based Restaurant Depot chain, attended the meeting and noted, "We just think it's a great location for us." Engineers for The Gutierrez Company showed an architect's rendering of a proposed building that made it look similar to the office buildings proposed to be built in Stone Ridge.

Pettinari said he would try to have something ready for the board to review in August, hold a public hearing on in September and then present to Town Meeting Members at the October Special Town Meeting.


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