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Falmouth Shopping Center discussion on hold

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Falmouth Shopping Center discussion on hold

FALMOUTH — The town has postponed a public charette to discuss redevelopment and expansion of the Falmouth Shopping Center and the future vision for the Route 1 area.

Originally planned for April, the charette would have given residents input into the design and make-up of the 28 acres abutting the shopping center, as well as the reuse of the vacant building in the existing plaza.

But the town has pushed back the discussion until the fall to allow more time to define the parameters and length of the charette, the director of long-range planning, Theo Holtwijk, said Tuesday. By holding it in September or October, he said, the town would realize better participation because people would have returned from summer vacations.

The shopping center and land are owned by Boston-based developers JPA Corp., represented by Andrew Gilmore, of ABG Strategies. While it was the town's decision to delay the charette, Gilmore said his clients are willing to wait. Although an anchor tenant reportedly was interested last summer, it has since backed out of the project.

"We're not actively marketing the undeveloped portion of the property until we go through the charette," Gilmore said. "The only change for us is the timing."

The developers first approached the town about their plans in January 2008. In an executive session, the Town Council instructed Town Manager Nathan Poore to pursue the development but to make it a public process.

Last summer, developers conducted environmental studies, including soil testing and wetlands delineation, to determine how much site work would be needed and how much of the land is buildable.

Nearly four years ago, a study was completed on Route 1 development standards. At that time, the council did not enact any of its findings. A year ago, the council formed a Route 1 Council Working Group with Holtwijk and Councilors Joe Wrobleski, Bonny Rodden and Dave Libby to take a closer look at the findings.

During a council meeting last summer, Holtwijk presented recommendations from the group based on a 2005 Route 1 Corridor Study. The committee suggested creating a mixed-use destination area with wide sidewalks, two-story buildings close to tree-lined streets, on-street parking and seating areas. All these considerations will be taken into account when evaluating the shopping center and Route 1 during the charette process.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.

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