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Cowls Inc. proposes building to house shops, offices, apartments in North Amherst

Called the Trolley Barn and designed by Kuhn Riddle Architects, plans for the three-story, 14,256-square-foot building at 68 Cowls Road were submitted this week to the Planning Department, said Cinda Jones, president of the company.

“We hope to start in October and finish by next summer,” Jones said.

Jones said the plans are being reviewed by the Conservation Commission, with the Planning Board expected to hold a hearing on the by-right use by early fall.

A special permit will be needed to get a variance from the required 20-foot front setback to position the building closer to the road and comply with form-based design elements that could be used in the village center.

The site is a 0.72-acre gravel lot on the north side of the street used for lumber storage.

Drawings of the building make it look like an oversized barn, with a pitched roof and architectural details such as a cupola that will match the one on the historic Hobart Barn on nearby Montague Road. The building features muted red and blue colors.

Jones said the first floor will have one to four retail tenants, and the two upper floors will have either two residential units, each at 1,930 square feet, or offices. She has disseminated promotional literature “seeking community-enhancing enterprises such as a market, coffee shop, breakfast joint, drugstore, offices, retail shops and restaurants.”

The building would be a smaller version of mixed-use developments proposed for Cowls Road that were put on hold after Town Meeting rejected zoning changes to promote more in-fill development.

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