A new Dillons store for south Massachusetts Street now has a date with City Hall.
Dillons leaders have submitted revised plans for a project to replace its existing store at 1740 Mass. with a larger, more modern version. Lawrence city commissioners will consider approving the plans at their Tuesday evening meeting.
The plans include new exterior renderings that attempt to break up the facades of the building with different brick patterns, colors, roof heights and other features.
“It is an attempt to make all sides of the building more architecturally interesting,” said Scott McCullough, the city’s director of planning.
Whether it will make more neighbors happy remains to be seen.
Several neighbors on Wednesday said they hadn’t fully reviewed the plans, but expectations for the new project were mixed.
“We want them to rebuild and we want them to do well,” said Matt Easley, general manager of On the Rocks, a liquor store just south of the Dillons. “There have been some concerns about sight lines and what we’ll see as we look at the back of their building, but it sounds like they are trying to be responsive.”
The idea of Dillons replacing its existing 1960s era store with a new store that will have a Starbucks, Chinese deli, organic foods section and other features has been nearly universally applauded. Concerns, however, have been raised over the details — especially from residents or businesses who are closest to the store.
“My feeling is that they are trying to put too much store onto the lot,” said Frederic McMillan, who lives almost directly behind the store. “They want a drive-through pharmacy, and the only way they can make that fit is to put more traffic onto New Hampshire Street.”
The new store is designed to face north instead of west as the current store does. Its drive-through pharmacy lane would be located on the east side of the building, facing the residents who live along New Hampshire Street. None of that changes in the new plans, and McCullough said city planners would not push for the building to be reoriented.
“The justification that Dillons has offered to us is that they just can’t make a different orientation work for the type of store they need to build,” McCullough said.
But the new plans do include changes that are designed to address neighborhood concerns. They include:
- A fenced area on the south side — or backside — of the building to store pallets, breadracks and other items that neighbors were concerned would be unsightly.
- Limiting the store’s New Hampshire Street access point to an entrance only. Motorists who come to the store could enter on New Hampshire Street, but they would have to leave through the store’s main Massachusetts Street driveway. That holds true for people who use the store drive-through pharmacy as well.
- A traffic study found traffic calming measures could be warranted for both New Hampshire Street and East 17th Terrace. The plan doesn’t include specific traffic calming measures. Instead, McCullough said he’ll recommend that Dillons be required to pay for a portion of any traffic calming measures added to those two streets in the future. He said the city’s Traffic Safety Commission would be asked to determine whether traffic calming devices are needed for the area. Dillons previously has said it is willing to share in the cost for traffic calming additions.
The plans still call for the store to be about 10,000 square feet larger than the existing store. Dillons officials previously have said the store will be open 24 hours, although the drive-through pharmacy likely will have hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
The project will require the existing Dillons store to close while the new store is built. A timeline for construction has not been announced by Dillons.
City commissioners will consider the project at their 6:35 p.m. meeting on Tuesday at City Hall.