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NORTHAMPTON — During its meeting on Feb. 8, the Northampton Planning Board approved a site plan for the construction of a three-story mixed-use building at 81 Maple St. in Florence.

The property, which is owned by Gaurang Patel, will have a 2,130-square-foot commercial space and 10 residential units, according to the project’s permit application.

Terry Reynolds, a civil engineer from T Reynolds in Florence, said in a presentation to the Planning Board that the first floor will house a 2,130-square-foot space for commercial use and a two-bedroom residential unit. The second floor will contain three one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom units, while the third floor will feature four two-bedroom units.

According to Reynolds, the lot, which is now vacant, once had a single-family house on it that was demolished some years ago.

The site plan also states that the three-story building at 81 Maple St. will share parking with 100 Main St., which Patel also owns.

That property currently features a two-story office building of about 7,400 square feet, and houses a boutique consulting firm.

Originally, the requirement was for there to be 43 parking spaces between the two buildings, but Reynolds and Patel asked for a reduction of spaces since there is already additional on-street parking in the vicinity.

After much technical discussion around the parking, the Planning Board ultimately decided to grant a special permit to Patel for 32 parking spaces instead of 43 with a condition that an electric vehicle charging station is available for two spaces.

During the meeting, Patel, who also owns Bird’s Store in Florence, said his goal is for the parking spaces to have designation so people know which ones are for residential and which ones are for commercial, but that is something that will happen more down the road.

He said he expects the parking lot will be used for commercial use during the daytime until about 4 p.m. and then for residential use after that.

“I need to see what the flow is,” Patel said, of the parking. “Once everything is up and running… I will coordinate.”

All of the public comments submitted were in favor of the project, as many people spoke highly of Patel as a person and as an owner.

Andrew Munson, one of four owners of MBS Advisors, the boutique consulting firm present on the second floor of 100 Main St., commended Patel for his ownership abilities, and showed support for the project.

“I have discussed with Gaurang the proposed project at 81 Maple St. in Florence, and I am extremely excited for him, for Florence, and for the future tenants of the new building,” said Munson, who also serves as the treasurer of Florence Civic and Business Association. “This project represents a major investment of capital in Florence; an investment that I believe will enhance the downtown area of Florence in a variety of ways–all of which should align with the city’s long-term goals and vision.”

Gretchen Jennings, the owner of 92 Main St. in Florence, also expressed support for the 81 Maple St. project, saying that the plan will “enhance the needs of the community” and the value of real estate.

“The in-fill project, aptly-named, not only addresses crucial housing needs but is also designed to be pedestrian-friendly, contributing positively to the local environment,” Jennings said.

City Council President Alex Jarrett, who represents the ward where this project will be, expressed strong support for the project and the special permit for reduced parking.

“Shared parking between residential and commercial uses makes a lot of sense because commercial and residential usage patterns differ and are complementary,” Jarrett said. “I think [this project] is an excellent addition to downtown Florence.”

rfeyre@thereminder.com | + posts