Golden Triangle First Look
By: Mary Stanley
Sandwich developer Thomas Tsakalos will, for the first time, publicly present his plans for the 24 acres of undeveloped land that he owns inside South Sandwich Village Center at a public hearing with the Cape Cod Commission on Monday night.
Those plans include a wading pool/skating rink, community center, indoor sports complex and a mix of residential housing, and office and retail space. The plans also call for a series of integrated parks that are connected by pedestrian walkways and bicycle-friendly paths as well as covered walkways connecting the buildings. In addition to the plans for the undeveloped land, which is located between Surf’s Up Pizza & Seafood and Today Real Estate, Mr. Tsakalos intends to make renovations to his existing Canterbury, Heritage and Tradewinds plazas. And he is seeking the commission’s approval on those renovations, as well.
While the commission is reviewing the plans for the proposed development and redevelopment project, it will also take under consideration Mr. Tsakalos’s plans to build a sewer connection system that would run the entire length of this elongated triangle of commercially zoned land, sometimes referred to as the Golden Triangle, and would lead to a wastewater treatment facility to be sited in the town’s industrial park on Jan Sebastian Drive. The treatment facility will service Mr. Tsakalos’s properties and others in the area.
According to Peter E. Dubay, general manager of Tsakalos Realty Trust, recent changes to the town’s zoning bylaws in this particular area as well as the proposed wastewater treatment facility have paved the way for Mr. Tsakalos to finally begin moving forward with his development plans.
“Zoning changes and the wastewater treatment facility allow for more density, and that is key to this whole project,” Mr. Dubay said.
Mr. Dubay said while the plans for Mr. Tsakalos’s 24 acres are quite detailed, the redevelopment work on the existing plazas are a little more loosely planned.
“We will definitely be making renovations to the existing buildings and because zoning allows for more density, we could be adding buildings in areas like Canterbury Plaza,” Mr. Dubay said.
He noted that the parking lot in that particular development is “huge,”and roads could be rearranged to allow for more structures that would provide additional office and retail space and residential housing.
He said it is unclear at this time whether any of the buildings in the plazas will be removed or replaced. As
for renovations to the newer Heritage Plaza, Mr. Dubay said that part of the project may consist of adding a second story to the buildings or simply changing the architecture so that they are consistent with the rest of the village-style buildings that will be built in the area.
As for Mr. Tsakalos’s Tradewinds Plaza, Mr. Dubay said nothing definitive has been decided for that particular property.
“It is so preliminary right now, we don’t know yet what we will be doing,” he said.
However, he pointed out that vacant land adjacent to the Sandwich Taverna in that plaza could provide some opportunities for new structures.
Though the public hearing scheduled for Monday night marks the initial step in the development and redevelopment of this economic center in the heart of South Sandwich, Mr. Dubay said the proposed project is already generating a great deal of interest.
“We have had interested tenants already calling us. We don’t have any anything solid, but we have had a lot of discussions and are receiving quite a few phone calls,” he said.
He declined to comment on who specifically has expressed an interest in moving into the development.
But all of the plans are a moot point unless Mr. Tsakalos receives the go-ahead from the commission and the state’s Environmental Protection Agency for the proposed wastewater treatment facility.
According to Kristy T. Senatori, chief regulatory officer with the Cape Cod Commission, Mr. Tsakalos has applied for a joint review by the Cape Cod Commission, as well as a state review under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act, which is overseen by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
“They have submitted a draft Environmental Impact Report and a subcommittee of the commission is holding a public hearing on Monday night to take testimony on the EIR. The commission will submit comments taken at the hearing for MEPA,” Ms. Senatori said.
She explained that the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs will make a determination as to whether to proceed to the final EIR and what should be included in that report.
“If and when the project is deemed adequate by the state, the applicant has indicated that he would like to proceed with a development agreement.”
That development agreement would be between the town, the developer, and the Cape Cod Commission that would spell out in detail how issues such as wastewater treatment, traffic and impact on infrastructure would be mitigated. Development agreements are especially attractive for large-scale projects such as the one being proposed by Mr. Tsakalos, because once the agreement is in place and all of the impacts of the project have been addressed, it allows the project to be developed or redeveloped over a period of 10 or 20 years without having to go through the Cape Cod Commission’s DRI process at each and every phase.
“With a development agreement, everybody is working together at the same time at the same table. It’s really a good process,” Mr. Dubay said.
“It streamlines the permitting process,” agreed Ms. Senatori.
If Mr. Tsakalos does use a development agreement rather than the traditional DRI process, it will set precedent on the Cape.
“This would be the first three-party agreement ever on the Cape,” said Mr. Dubay.
Mr. Tsakalos’s plans for the property could change even further if he should bid on and win the 55-acre parcel of land the town is looking to sell that abut Mr. Tsakalos’s acres in the Golden Triangle.
Mr. Tsakalos’s preliminary designs include his visions for the town-owned property, such as affordable housing, a library, and additional retail stores.
But a vote at Town Meeting in May, in which voters approved including the Pop Warner football field, located next to the Stop & Shop Supermarket on Quaker Meetinghouse Road in the sale, could change some of Mr. Tsakalos’s designs, which call for leaving the football field in place.
“That’s valuable land and I am sure Tom would want to do something with that,” said Mr. Dubay.
Town Meeting approved including the Pop Warner field in the sale of the property so long as the winning bidder agreed to build another field, equal to or better than the existing one, on another piece of town-owned land.
“We would be happy to do that,” Mr. Dubay said.
A subcommittee of the Cape Cod Commission will hold its public hearing on Mr. Tsakalos’s development, redevelopment and wastewater plans Monday, beginning at 6 PM in the lower level meeting room of the town hall offices on Jan Sebastian Drive.