Two-story, 23-unit apartment building being added to Main Street complex in Amherst

  • Amherst Town Hall

Staff Writer
Published: 7/12/2022 3:24:13 PM
Modified: 7/12/2022 3:23:58 PM

AMHERST — A new development that will bring 23 apartments, most of which will be studio and one-bedroom units rented at market rates, can get underway on a section of Main Street near Gray Street.

The second phase of Center East Commons, a project being developed by John Wroblewski of South Deerfield, can be built at 446-462 Main St. after recently receiving unanimous support from the Planning Board.

“I look forward to moving on with this project and getting it done,” Wroblewski said at the board’s June 29 meeting, following the board’s approval of the plans and a series of conditions.

The 23 units, with 24 beds, will be in a 15,500-square-foot building. The project was reduced from 27 apartments and no longer features a third floor, so it won’t overwhelm an existing 1820 home that for many years has provided a mix of office space and includes a three-bedroom apartment.

The development, with three apartments designated as affordable, will be situated on the north side of Main Street between  Gray and High streets, almost immediately across from the entrance to the VFW. Already constructed on the site in recent years is a similar building with 30 bedrooms in 16 apartments and a 500-square-foot professional office.

Though parking will be somewhat limited on site, planners determined that what is available will be sufficient to meet the needs of tenants, based on the landlord’s track record with other projects.

A motion by Planning Board Chairman Douglass Marshall to refer the project for examination to the Design Review Board and Local Historical District Commission before planners made a decision was rejected by his colleagues.

Board member Maria Chao, who was serving at her final meeting, said she appreciated the changes Wroblewski made since originally proposing the project, improving it by having the office face the street and bringing its scale down to match the historic home.

“You’re doing the best you can with the space you have for this parcel, and I feel like it's a perfect project for the zone it’s in and what you can do with the site,” Chao said.

Gabrielle Gould, executive director of the Amherst Business Improvement District, told the board that increasing housing density within walking distance of downtown through such an infill project will help address the town’s continued housing crisis and will also benefit local retailers and restaurants.

“The BID has full support behind this project — we’re very excited about it we love its proximity to the bus stops,” Gould said.

Gould also complimented Wroblewski on being a good landlord. He also oversees a property with 40 bedrooms at 22 High St.

District 3 Councilor Dorothy Pam said she worries about denser development in one of the town’s most historic neighborhoods, being a short distance east of the Emily Dickinson Museum. The new housing will also go up near where Amherst Media’s new headquarters could be built in 2023, and where several homes were moved to vacant parcels on Gray Street in recent years.

“It looks as dense as what I would expect in a much bigger town, in a town with a subway, like parts of Queens,” Pam said.

Still, Pam complimented Wroblewski on the efforts he made to make the project compatible with its neighboring properties.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.
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