LONGMEADOW – The next step for Colvest CEO and founder Frank Colaccino is marketing the proposed Towne Shoppes of Longmeadow to prospective retailers and restaurants.
“We will develop a site plan and we will start contacting tenants to occupy the center,” Colaccino said Wednesday. “Now that we have a zoned piece of property. We want to build a premier specialty shopping center.”
Longmeadow voters on Tuesday approved a zoning change for the church site by a vote of 625-95, according to the Longmeadow Town Clerk. Total attendance at the Special Town Meeting was 821.
The measure needed a two-thirds vote to pass.
Colvest will present that site plan to the town’s Planning Board, the next step in the project’s approval process, probably in February, Colaccino said. Around then, demolition will begin on the vacated First Church of Christ, Scientist, building that still occupies the 3-acre parcel at 916 Williams St. adjacent to Longmeadow Shops.
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A similar rezoning proposal failed two years ago, getting only 181 in favor of the zoning change and 105 against. The project needed 191 votes in 2021.
“I think we were very transparent in what we were doing,” Colaccino said of this year’s campaign. “We communicated with the community.”
The Colvest Group predicts the project will generate $250,000 to $300,000 a year in property tax revenue to the town. The town of Longmeadow expects to collect $62.2 million in property tax revenue in the 2024 fiscal year, according to the town’s budget.
Colaccino’s proposal is for a $10 million retail-and-restaurant plaza pitched to high-end, premium, tenants.
Towne Shoppes of Longmeadow will be either a single building of about 30,000 square feet or multiple buildings of 24,000 to 30,000 square feet, depending on tenant needs.
Both possibilities would require demolishing the 60-year-old church.
It also means new signals at the intersection of Williams Street, Frank Smith Road and Redfern Drive.
The expansion of Longmeadow Shops, which included the present and larger CVS store, required its owners to contribute $250,000 for a new light that was never installed.
The new project will match it with another $250,000 to re-do the light and improve the intersection.
Colvest bought the property from the congregation for $1.1 million, according to documents on file at the Hampden County Registry of Deeds.
Colaccino said the Christian Science congregation took with it nearly everything from inside the building. There might be a few church pews that can be reused and Colvest will seek to donate them.
Friendly’s co-founder S. Prestley Blake conveyed the property to the church in 1961 so the Christian Science congregation could move from a different location and make way for what’s now Bay Path University to expand. He developed the 9-acre Longmeadow Shops plaza next to the church site, opening it in 1962.
For a time, the congregation met at Bay Path again after closing its Williams Street building. But the denomination now lists only two local Christian Science churches in the Pioneer Valley, in Northampton and Greenfield.