WATERTOWN — A group of developers are looking to remove “one of the worst eyesores in Watertown.”
According to the Bedford-based real estate company Criterion Development Partners, an apartment complex may be the answer to the question of what should be done with the abandoned Haartz-Mason factory on Pleasant Street.
CDP, and architecture firm Cube 3 Studio of Lawrence, proposed a plan to replace the decrepit structures with two apartment buildings, retail space and a “really wonderful streetscape” during a community meeting on Feb. 3.
“The proposed plan will restore the buffer along the bike path and the location will allow residents to take advantage of the natural amenities of the river, the proximity to the restaurants and shops in Watertown Square and the commuting options of the bike path and bus lines all without needing to rely on a car,” CDP Vice President Heather Boujoulian said.
The proposed four-story, U-shaped building would include a raised courtyard facing the Charles River and increased access to the bike paths. The building would have a grade-level parking garage with 189 spaces beneath the 139 residential units. It would include a clubhouse with a gym for renters and other rooms for meetings and events.
The second building would be constructed in the parking lot at Pleasant Street and Howard Street. The three-story building would also house a grade level-parking garage with 45 spaces, 35 residential units and feature a retail space. Some of the garage parking would be made available in the garage for retail customers during operating hours.
“It’s a great location for an ice cream or coffee shop,” Cube 3 Studio Architect Brian O’Connor said. “This is a great opportunity to take advantage of the river, improve access and help activate this whole area that could really use some activity. It could be a really meaningful place.”
For more than 70 years, Haartz-Mason Inc., a manufacturer of roofing and auto-top fabrics, employed dozens of immigrant families at the property. But the mill closed in 1993 and soon became a haven for teen vandals and the homeless, neighbors say.
Fires in 2004 and 2007 further damaged the building’s weakening structure and increased neighborhood calls that it be razed before someone wandered in and was badly hurt or killed.
The newest proposal includes 26 studios, 82 one-bedroom apartments and 66 two-bedroom apartments, which would each cost approximately $2 per square foot. 17 of the units will be affordable.
Parking will not be visible from Pleasant Street except through the door of the garage and a variety of flowers, bushes and trees would be planted around the property, which Boujoulian said will make the building look less like a blank, brick wall.
CDP has also agreed to provide Charlie Cards to any resident who wants one to encourage use of public transportation. There will be extra space in the garage for residents to keep their bicycles and CDP will provide rental bicycles for complex residents to encourage use of the bike path.
CDP has made an agreement with the Department of Conservation and Recreation to maintain a portion of the bike path behind the building along the river.
Extra storage will be created beneath the building for floodwaters that will go through a filtration system before it is released back into the environment.
If approved, the project would take approximately 22 months to complete. The proposal will go before the Planning Board on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. in the Town Council Chambers.