Assistant Managing Editor
SPRINGFIELD Sixteen Acres has seen numerous changes over the last few years with the additions of Peoples Bank, Fresh Acres Market and ongoing work on Greenleaf Community Center. There may be more to come as a development firm eyes the corner of Wilbraham Road and Parker Street.
The Colvest Group of Windsor, Conn., met with residents and members of the 16 Acres Civic Association at a special meeting called in Colvest's honor, last Tuesday.
According to their conceptual plan, two buildings will be demolished in phases to make way for retail office space, a bank and Starbucks.
The nearly vacant building at the corner of Wilbraham and Parker will be turned into a bank, whose name was not disclosed, and the current two businesses in there, Taxman and Fancy Nail Spa, will be moved into an adjacent lot to be housed with two other retail offices and an adjoining Starbucks. The adjacent lot is presently the site of the defunct Quality Time Child Care facility. The bank will be approximately 2,867 square feet and the retail and Starbucks will total 7,209 square feet.
Both buildings will have drive throughs, one for the bank (which includes two pneumatic tubes) and the other for Starbucks.
Project Manager Peter LaPointe said that they were doing the projects in phases "so we're not displacing either of the businesses that are on site."
"I don't think you really thought out the traffic plan, sir," association member Ann Pieroway said. "I'm no genius, I work for the state ... and then you're going to add a bank to this."
"I agree there is going to be a wait there," Colvest President Frank Colaccino said.
"There's going to be accidents there," Pieroway responded.
Colaccino said he grew up in Sixteen Acres and is very familiar with the area. The Colvest Group is also responsible for the construction of the PeoplesBank on Wilbraham Road and the Starbucks development that opened over a year ago on the corner of East Columbus Avenue and Margaret Street, in Springfield.
Many residents felt that the drive-thrus would intensify an already traffic heavy intersection.
"When you have a Starbucks, their drive-thru component is not as busy as a Dunkin Donuts," Colaccino said.
He went on to state that Starbucks' peak drive-thru hours are between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and that they service a car every two and a half to three minutes.
"The time that it takes to make a latte [versus] pour a cup of coffee is different. It's a different customer," he stated.
Another resident raised the issue about the landscape of the lot. LaPointe said the line of trees on the western side would remain and there will also be 27 shrubs added.
"I don't care what you do, you're not going to make it 100 percent of what everybody wants," Colaccino said. "We have a history of putting things together and they do look nice."
There are 42 spaces alloted for parking, which Colaccino added, exceeded the city code. The Colvest Group also expected a traffic study within ten days of the Aug. 7 meeting.
Fall is the target start date for construction on the site, but if paperwork and permits are not in order by then, Colaccino said they would be shooting for springtime. The Colvest Group is to go before the Springfield City Council with their plans on Aug. 20.
Sixteen Acres Civic Association President Clodo Concepcion said that he is happy when caliber businesses want to come to 16 Acres.
"They could go anywhere else. I think we have to look beyond the traffic. The traffic has been like that for five years," he said.