On Tuesday, the Planning Board began its review of the plan being proposed for 735 Columbia Street: the adaptive reuse of the site as the new location of Lil' Deb's Oasis.
It will be remembered that in 2020 the Planning Board approved a plan to reuse the building as a microbrewery and bar to be called Columbia Filling Station. On the approval of that project, there was one dissenting vote. The plan involved parking in front of the building, which Planning Board member Larry Bowne declared was "suburban" and argued it would be more appropriate if the space were used for outdoor seating. For this reason, Bowne voted against granting site plan approval.
It's not clear if and where parking is planned in the new proposal, but there was mention of outdoor seating in front of the building.
The brewery project was not pursued. It was abandoned because of the extensive remediation that would be required. That project is now underway on upper Union Street. On Tuesday, the applicant reported that an environmental review of the property was done at the time of closing, and "the verdict was there was no contamination."
The plan now being proposed involves some new construction on the site, shown in dark gray in the drawing below.
The front building would be used as the restaurant, which it is anticipated would seat 49. The existing building at the back would be used for event space with outdoor seating. It is anticipated this space would accommodate 150.
Craig Haigh pointed out that the building is in a locally designated historic district and hence the project is subject to review by the Historic Preservation Commission. Carla Perez-Gallardo, owner of Lil' Deb's Oasis, asked, "Does that include paint color?" She intimated that they might be interested in applying the colors used on the current building to the new location.
When a question was raised about signage, the applicants said they liked the old sign and wanted to keep it and add to it.
The review of this project by the Planning Board and then by the Historic Preservation Commission will continue.
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