Above: Plans for SmartApp’s renovation of 11 Main Street include a rooftop glass pavilion.
Two Main Street buildings that need approval for alterations were discussed at a virtual Historic District Commission meeting last week, to see if the proposed changes would match the character of EG’s historic district. Both buildings were part of the flurry of property activity downtown last fall (read more HERE).
EG News wrote about two other buildings – 104 Duke and 11 Lion – also on the HDC agenda that night HERE.
11 Main Street
The commission reviewed a proposal for the old post office building at 11 Main Street – the planned new headquarters for New England tech company SmartApp. Eric Zuena, principal for ZDS Architecture & Interior Design, explained the company’s plan to return the post office, used as a restaurant for so many years, to office use.
The plan will preserve the building’s facade while completely revamping the interior. Rather than recreate or reuse interior elements, Zuena said the building’s interior would be an “intentional juxtaposition” with its historic exterior. The biggest change will be a glass “pavilion” on the building’s roof. It will be set back from the edge, so it won’t be visible from the street.
HDC members expressed strong approval of the plan, although SmartApp still needs to receive zoning approval for the pavilion. If that happens, the company would have to present a more detailed plan to the HDC before it votes on final approval. The historic status of the buildings means that any plan will have to ensure that original materials are preserved as much as possible, that any replacements emulate the originals, and that new additions are compatible with surrounding buildings.
319 Main Street
Also on the agenda, Tom Clayton of Touchdown Realty, the owner of 319 Main Street, was back before the HDC after making alterations to both the windows and a shed dormer the panel had approved in 2020.
On the call, Clayton explained the windows installed by contractors differed from what his initial proposal promised. Rather than containing four separate pieces of glass (known as “2 over 2, divided lights”), the sashes on the building now have only two pieces of glass, with a grid over them that visually divides the panes in four (that is, “4 over 4, simulated divided light”). That kind of window, according to HDC standards, does not match the historical design of the building and was not what had been approved.
Although Clayton assured the HDC this was a mistake and that he wanted the building in the best possible condition, he also argued the windows were already in.
Members were clearly displeased with the discrepancy, especially since town officials notified Clayton of the mistake early on, but Clayton proceeded to have the rest of the windows installed.
“We get bait-and-switched a lot. We can’t encourage that,” said HDC member Erinn Calise. The other members agreed, saying because of the prominent location of the building on Main Street, they were not inclined to approve the request.
On the advice of Town Solicitor Andrew Teitz, the commission’s vote was postponed until their next meeting, March 10. Clayton promised to try to bring a contractor representative to the meeting to discuss their liability for the mistake and the best way to rectify it.
On the issue of the shed dormer – which Clayton built larger than had been approved in 2018 – after consultation with HDC members and town officials, he was allowed to cut it back enough to satisfy the panel, which deemed it “acceptable” in an effort to allow the project to continue to move forward.