"New Downtown" Development On Sparks Avenue Approved By Planning Board

Jason Graziadei •

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The latest HDC submission for the Sparks Avenue development.

After more than a year of review and public hearings, the so-called “new downtown” development planning for Sparks Avenue was approved Monday night by the Nantucket Planning Board on a 4-1 vote.

The mixed-use building is one of the largest private, commercial structures to be permitted by the Planning Board, and will be constructed on a 1.6-acre property across the street from the mid-island Stop & Shop.

Here’s some of the details of the development, including its size and what will be included, as approved Monday night:

  • Building size: 18,000 square feet
  • Three above-ground floors, no basement
  • 8-lane bowling alley
  • Arcade
  • 50-seat restaurant
  • Take-out restaurant
  • 32 apartments, including 56 bedrooms
  • 85 on-site parking spaces

Developers Christopher Fiumara and Daniel Najarian are aiming to construct the mixed-use building on lots stretching from 18 to 26 Sparks Avenue, including the area where The Downyflake restaurant is currently located up to the Cumberland Farms property. It's not yet clear if the Downyflake would continue to operate in the new restaurant space once the development is completed, although that is the hope of the developers.

The developers are working with the town’s Affordable Housing Trust to create eight affordable apartments. In a letter to the Planning Board, the developer wrote that he is “willing to restrict the apartments to only year-round users, meaning no short-term rentals.”

Access to the site will be through two-way driveways on either side of the building, with a shared driveway at 16 Sparks Avenue (with Nantucket Housefitters). While the developers had hoped to reach an agreement with the neighboring property owner that leases a building to Cumberland Farms on a shared driveway, that deal never materialized. The Planning Board is hoping that a compromise can be reached on that entrance before construction begins. 

The developer has planned for 85 on-site parking spots, which is 11 more spaces than required under the town’s zoning bylaw for the property.

While the Planning Board approved the major commercial development permit for the project, the final design of the building is still pending before the Historic District Commission.

After island residents Val Oliver and Meri Lepore spoke out against the development during Monday night’s hearing, the Planning Board members defended their review process and deliberations, stating the project had been subject to more than a year’s worth of meetings, had been scaled back from the original proposal, and was within the scope of what the town’s master plan had outlined for the Mid-Island Planned Overlay District.

“It does not satisfy logic or common sense for any mid-island residents hwo live and deal with the existing infrastructure on a daily basis,” Oliver said. “Be reasonable and do the honorable thing: scale this project back."

Planning Board members Joseph Topham, Barry Rector, John Trudel and Nat Lowell voted in favor of the project. Chairman David Iverson was the lone vote against the development.

"We do take this veyr seriously, and we've had over a year with no fewer than seven meetings, many hours of discussion, and looked at everything from the site plan, the landscaping plan, lighting, sidewalks, entrances, with multiple changes in size," Trudel said. "We’ve done the best we can."

The following conditions were placed upon the project as part of the Planning Board's approval:

  • That the Applicant grant the Town and/or County an easement along the entrance abutting 30 Sparks Av. The Board must request action on the easement within seven years of the issuance of the final Certificate of Occupancy (or a date otherwise mutually agreeable between the Board and the Applicant);
  • That Applicant agrees to construct the sidewalk improvements along Sparks Avenue at their own expense;
  • That Applicant agrees to contribute $10,000 to the Town of Nantucket to be used for area bike and pedestrian improvements;
  • That a pre construction meeting take place with relevant Town staff prior to the commencement of construction;
  • Short term rentals in any of the apartment units shall be strictly prohibited;
  • That the Applicant and the Affordable Housing Trust on behalf of the Select Board, reach an agreement on affordability and/or year-round restrictions prior to the issuance of a building permit.
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