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Newest Tourister Plan Starts March for Approval on Warren River

'We were hearing,' said Warren Town Planner Caroline Wells. "Now we're reviewing."

Former Tourister mill in Warren. Credit: W.Rupp
Former Tourister mill in Warren. Credit: W.Rupp

The approval process for the latest plan to develop the former Tourister luggage mill complex on Warren’s waterfront has begun. 

“We were hearing,” said Warren Town Planner Caroline Wells. “Now we’re reviewing.” 

The formal application for the complex went before Warren’s Technical Review Committee late Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 15. Wells received the application from Tourister Mill LLC, a partnership of Brady Sullivan of Manchester, N.H., and Starr Development Partners LLC of Belmont, Mass., about two weeks ago. 

A big step will come on Monday, Jan. 27 when the project will go before a “public information meeting” of the Warren Planning Board, Wells said.

“It will give just about anyone a chance to comment on the plan,” Wells said. 

The only significant change to the expected plan for the project that was revealed last October is the inclusion of “penthouse-type apartments” on a fourth floor that will be added to the building. Those units will be among the more than 300 one- and two-bedroom apartments on the second and third floors. They will look over the river and downtown Warren. 

The first floor will be made up of commercial tenants – primarily retail shops, restaurants and light manufacturing. Housing is not allowed on the first floor because the building sits in a flood zone. 

The formal application also shows the addition of a “boardwalk” along the Warren River and “parking inside the buildings,” Wells said. It also shows several acres of green space and a new seawall. The current seawall needs repairs even without a boardwalk, she said.

Wells said she anticipates that the exterior walls will be repointed and given a cosmetic makeover as well.

The developers already have master plan approval, which was given by the planning board to a previous proposal by Meredith Associates, which sold the building to Tourister Mill LLC last spring. 

Sullivan and Starr are looking now for an “amended master plan approval,” said Wells. She expects that to come no later than the planning board’s February meeting. 

Getting preliminary approval could take several months longer, she said. That will involve a significant level of engineering and design review.

The developers anticipate completing the entire project in two phases by sometime late next year – an ambitious timetable. The developers also plan to use historic tax credits along with private funding to create the combination residential and commercial structure, said Wells. And they plan to manage the property after it is completed.  

The project includes the razing of two buildings – one to the east of the main building that has seen serious decay over the years, Wells said. Other than the fourth floor penthouses, there will be no new buildings constructed.

There also will be no affordable housing, she said. All of the apartments will be rented at market rates.

Ron Cranwell January 16, 2014 at 08:28 AM
Let's hope the town doesn't make the approval process too long and scare away another opportunity for the town and much needed tax revenue.

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