Above: Smartapp’s plan for 11 Main Street includes new windows and a rooftop atrium.
The Zoning Board Tuesday granted the new owner of the old post office building at 11 Main Street variances for his plan to convert it into office space. As previously presented to the Historic District Commission in March (link HERE), the proposal will convert the building into the headquarters of Smartapp.com, a logistics technology company. The building has been vacant for several years; its most recent incarnations had been as a series of restaurants, most notably the Post Office Cafe.
On behalf of Smartapp.com, lawyer Nicholas Goodier presented the proposed changes that will return the building to office use. The plans include the addition of a pavilion on top of the building, a mezzanine inside, and a reconfiguration of the parking lot with new gates, accessibility ramps, and additional parking spaces. Smartapp.com will keep its existing West Warwick offices, with the new headquarters housing the company’s executive and management staff and providing a “grand arrival” for visiting clients.
As for the request for zoning relief, engineer Joseph Casali noted the old post office already violates current zoning rules, many of which were drafted with new construction in mind. The owner simply asked that the site’s amount of landscaping, setback from the road, and parking space design stay the same. In the case of the parking, the design will “lessen the intensity” of the plot’s non-conformity to zoning code. Among the other changes, however, the plan calls for paving more of the lot and placing a “monument” sign just 1.5 feet from the edge of the plot (as opposed to the normal 10 feet required).
Responding to questions from the board, Smartapp.com CEO Michael Colapietro explained that the office will be used by 25 to 30 employees but not everyone would be commuting by car, so the lot’s planned 15 spaces would be sufficient. Colapietro also confirmed that there are no planned agreements to allow restaurants or other Main Street businesses to use the parking spots outside of business hours. Furthermore, with the building’s planned daytime use, its employees and visitors would not add to evening congestion of the downtown area, Colapietro said.
The Zoning Board approved the variances with an unanimous 5-0 vote, citing the unique conditions of the property. The next step for the owner will be to return to the Historic District Commission for final approval.