The Board of Selectmen Monday night presented a brief update on the housing development planned for the old Wellesley Inn space that’s been vacant on Washington Street for the past six years. Developer Jordan Warshaw has proposed a less ostentatious development than that planned by the previous development team, which pulled back when the economy went south.
The latest twist in this story is that Warshaw is open to working with the town to retain what’s known as the Beebe House at 53 Grove St. (shown here), which is on the former Wellesley Inn site and was originally marked for obliteration under the development plan. The Wellesley Historical Commission has argued against razing the 1876 building, which it says is historically significant, and Warshaw has offered some ideas on how to use it to accommodate a couple of the affordable housing units he must build as part of the project.
There are still plenty of zoning and permitting hurdles to scale for Warshaw, but the Selectmen said he has been creative in coming up with approaches that will satisfy the town. Warshaw is looking for an expedited permitting process in an effort to get a foundation in the ground for the main project this summer, with hopes of the building going up by fall of 2014. Due to the timing of the assorted hearings, one scenario might be that the affordable housing construction might not get underway until next spring, but that the entire project might still be completed around the same time. One big potential gotcha, noted town executive director Hans Larsen, is the cost that might be involved in preserving the Beebe House and whether Town Meeting next fall would be in favor of devoting any funds (possibly a couple hundred thousand) to that.
Arvid von Taube says
They’re saving this silly house which really is not a treat on the eyes, but they couldn’t save the Wellesley Inn – at least the original structure, which was beautiful? I’m glad they’re not tearing down another piece of irreplaceable history, but where was the historical society when the Inn was being torn down.
Josh Dorin says
Have faith. Once restored, the Beebe House will look wonderful. As for the Wellesley Inn, it always takes a tragedy to spark a movement. Let’s hope that the razing of the Inn, 1938 High School, and Needham Town Hall (Country Club clubhouse) help move us into a period of preservation and restoration. (And it’s the Historical Commission, not the Historical Society, that deals with these issues.)
steve harunk says
affordable housing – yeah, a home at 35% percent below median value – why bother – let them build a high class retail store – why try to make the town something it isn’t – hippee at heart, but this is foolish – build it big and let those who have the cash to spend, spend it…
Arvid von Taube says
Very good point regarding a new period of preservation and restoration. After all, it took the destruction of the original Penn Station in NYC to help bring about a national awareness of historic preservation that contributed to saving Grand Central Terminal from the same fate. Although, IMHO, original Penn Station’s beauty dwarfed even that of Grand Central’s.