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.