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ZBA grants variance for Bell Circle development

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At its monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 25, the Zoning Board of Appeals approved a project that will reconfigure lots on the American Legion Highway, allowing for the construction of a new Starbucks, an urgent care facility and a new home for the Pizza Days restaurant. The ZBA approved the variance that will allow for the subdivision of an existing lot at 25 and 55 American Legion Hwy. and for the construction of two new buildings by the owner of the property, Bellboa LLC of Wilmington. The City Council previously issued a special permit for the razing of the two buildings on the lot.

The project will take a little over a year, with the buildings being constructed in a phased approach, according to developer Paul Kneeland. The phased schedule means Pizza Days will only have to close for about a week during construction.

The new Starbucks at Bell Circle will help take some of the pressure off the existing Starbucks farther up the highway in East Boston, and the second new building will house a ConvenientMD Urgent Care facility.

“We were recently granted a special permit to raze two existing, nonconforming structures at 25 and 55 American Legion Highway to redevelop the site,” said Catherine Hannigan, who represented the developer before the ZBA last week. “We will construct a standalone structure at 25 ALH for Starbucks and a larger structure at 55 ALH for ConvenientMD and the existing Pizza Days tenant will remain in the space.”

As part of the redevelopment, Hannigan said, the developer looked at both sites as a whole and is using the development as an opportunity to clean up the lot lines. “They are really very triangulated right now so we just want to straighten it out and make the lots more commensurate with what will actually be on each lot,” she said. “In doing so, the lot for 25 ALH will be just shy of 21,000 square feet, which requires a variance from you because we are short of the 25,000 square foot requirement [in a Technology Enterprise District].”

Ward 3 City Councillor Anthony Cogliandro spoke in favor of the variance request. “My favorite part of the project is going to be the urgent care, not the Starbucks because I’m a Dunkin’ Donuts guy, no offense,” he said. “The urgent care – the fact that they are taking a small business and giving them a brand-new facility – I think this variance is totally acceptable and I am on board with it.”

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