The City Council, during its last meeting of the year Monday night, approved two projects that councilors believe will greatly impact Waltham.
The council, meeting for the last time with the current assemblage of councilors, had a busy night Monday. Councilors met first as a full council then recessed into committee meetings before gathering again as a full council. The meetings ran until after midnight.
The first of two major projects approved was a new building at 275 Wyman St. When built, the space will serve as the new North American headquarters for future tenant and marketing giant Vistaprint.
The second special permit granted by the council will allow for the operation of a retail building at 1019 Trapelo Road. The permit, which was granted to owner and petitioner Dan Yu, will allow for the building to contain two fast food facilities.
The Henry Hoover Room, located just next to the council chambers in City Hall, was not built for large crowds but the small space was packed with petitioners and other people eager to hear whether the Ordinance and Rules Committee would approve a special permit for the construction of a new building at 275 Wyman St.
The petitioners, 275 Wyman Street LLC, are a subgroup of Waltham’s second largest taxpayer, Hobbs Brook Management LLC. The developers first petitioned the city in September. Hobbs Brook Management, the owner of the land, has agreed on a lease with Vistaprint, which will be moving its headquarters to Waltham.
Vistaprint, an online provider of marketing products to small businesses around the world, currently operates out of Lexington, but Vistaprint’s Chief Accounting Officer Michael Greiner said earlier this year that the company would try to move into the Waltham space quickly and might be able to do so as early as 2015.
There was some opposition to the project during a meeting earlier this year, as some neighboring residents were concerned about the increased amount of traffic the new building would create.
The Ordinance and Rules Committee worked with the petitioner to try and meet some of these concerns. The board developed several conditions, including new timing for the traffic lights in the area and building a guardhouse at the end of the property driveway to prevent commuters from cutting through, which is a popular maneuver especially during rush hour, according to Chairman Edmund Tarallo.
Hobbs Brook Management President Thomas Dusel was joined by local carpenter and builder unions, who waited through the entire night to see the project receive approval, and they were not let down. Dusel, who owns 13 properties in Waltham and 23 in the state, has a track record of contracting union workers to do his construction and they applauded heartily after the council gave the project final approval.
1019 Trapelo Road
A new retail building at the intersection of Trapelo Road and Lexington Street was another major project OK’d Monday night.
The permit will allow for two new fast food facilities – a coffee shop and an Asian fusion takeout restaurant – to exist in the building. Although not confirmed, there was some talk during the meeting that a deal was being worked out with Starbucks to open up in the space, according to Ward 3 Councilor George Darcy. Darcy heavily supported the project, saying the area was in need of such retail.
“We’re not the south side of Waltham,” Darcy said, adding that he has received countless calls from constituents who want to see the project move forward.
The Ordinance and Rules Committee voted the project out to the full council the week earlier with a three to two vote in favor. Chairman Edmund Tarallo spoke out in opposition of the project, saying that the intersection, which he stated was the 14th worst in the state, was not suited for the increased traffic that would be generated by the project.
“It’s not just a bad [intersection], it’s one of the worst in the state,” Tarallo said.
Ward 9 Councilor Robert Logan, who also serves on the Ordinance and Rules Committee, proposed an amendment on the council floor that would prohibit left-hand turns when exiting the property. The amendment was also proposed during committee, but voted down.
Opponents of the amendment argued that it would force Ward 3 residents to return home by going through Lexington. Ward 8 Councilor Stephen Rourke said he even went up to the location to try the turn, which he reported was not a problem. The amendment was voted down.
“I’m sure the councilor from Ward 3 knows best,” Logan said. “If it turns into a traffic nightmare, I just want you to know I did offer the amendment.”