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    Sunday, June 23, 2024

    Groton outlines guidelines for Groton Heights School redevelopment

    Groton ― As the town plans to again seek proposals for the redevelopment of the Groton Heights School property, it wants a future developer to keep the historic two-story structure, if feasible.

    The Town Council plans to include that, among other development guidelines, in a Request for Proposals document for the approximately 2-acre property at 244 Monument St. in the city.

    The council also wants a future developer to create a quality development that will complement the neighborhood and manage traffic; preserve or create public space or recreation on or near the property that will be open to all Groton residents; and retain trees and landscape the property where feasible, among other guidelines listed in the draft Request for Proposals document.

    There is no requirement that a potential developer propose housing for the site, but if a developer submits a proposal for housing, at least 10% of the units should be affordable.

    After proposing changes to the draft document at its Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, the Town Council recommended the Request for Proposals be taken up at the June 4 council meeting. It then would be sent to the Planning & Zoning Commission and Representative Town Meeting for comment, said Town Manager John Burt.

    The town also is including criteria that, while not required, will help potential developers score higher on the town’s evaluation, such as including a Project Labor Agreement, incorporating solar lighting and carbon-neutral development, and having a variety of affordable housing price points, if housing is proposed, Burt said.

    The town will seek proposals after ThayerMahan last year decided it would not move forward with redeveloping the school property as its headquarters and research and development center.

    At the Tuesday meeting, Economic and Community Development Manager Paige Bronk said the intent is to keep the shell of the 1912 building, designed by Dudley St. Clair Donnelly, but the interior will need substantial modification or to be gutted. He said the town repaired the roof after water poured into at least the top floor a few years ago, and most of the windows and doors have been vandalized.

    He said the gym was built after the original building, and the city potentially would entertain the removal of the gym or some modification of the gym.

    Jon Reiner, the town’s director of planning and development services, said if there are not substantial changes as it goes through the town commissions, the town could issue the Request for Proposals in August.

    The town also is asking to be part of the negotiations in a potential land swap between a developer and the adjacent Bill Memorial Library.

    The town is reviewing the draft document before issuing it for potential developers to submit proposals. The town would then review the proposals and follow its recently revised process for vacant, town-owned properties, to select a developer. The new process is designed to include more community input and treat all vacant properties equitably, Burt has said.

    Burt said he expects the Town Council to discuss a draft Request for Proposals document for another vacant town-owned property, the former Pleasant Valley School, at its May 28 Committee of the Whole meeting.


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