HARWICH — It has been a long time coming, but the former gas station property in Harwich Center could be heading for major renovations.
The historic district and historical commission will conduct a certificate of appropriateness hearing in two weeks for a proposal for a new convenience store and two apartments on the site.
The 27,441-square-foot lot, which has a small, dilapidated structure that housed the office of the former gas station on the property, could see improvements in the near future. The property is owned by Elie and Rab Bassil, who also own the gas station next to Cumberland Farms in Harwich Port.
The Bassils have an agreement with Saumil Patel, who operates the Main Street Market next door, to pursue the permitting for a new structure. The proposal is to construct a 4,000-square-foot convenience store with two two-bedroom, 1,500-square-foot apartments above. Documentation in town hall identifies a convenience store/deli for the first floor.
In the HD&HC application, Elie Bassil provides documentation giving Patel permission to apply for the necessary permits to move forward with the project, including demolition of the existing structure and pursuing permits to construct a new building.
“Their buying this land from me is contingent upon them getting the plans approved from the town and obtaining all the permits required to start the construction,” the document states.
Patel said his lease in the Main Street Market building is up in three years, so he is looking at constructing a building that will provide options. He said he hasn't figured out what exactly he will do, and whether the entire operation will move over to the new structure he plans to call 711 Food Mart.
Patel has begun informal discussions with the historic district and historical commission on the proposal. Much like the Main Street Market building, the design shows the face of the proposed building as being located perpendicular to Main Street with the parking on the side.
Mary Maslowski, HD&HC chair, said a proposal was brought before the commission informally last month, and there were members who wanted to see the face of the building running parallel to Main Street and the parking placed behind the building.
But Patel told The Chronicle this week that an eight-foot drop at the rear portion of the lot makes it difficult to place parking there. He also said a convenience store would not be convenient if parking was in the rear. It's not like Harwich Port where there is walking traffic, he said of Harwich Center. Most people drive to the present store.
The HD&HC will conduct a certificate of appropriateness hearing on the project on July 18 at town hall. The town's demolition delay bylaw does not apply to the existing structure, which was built circa 1970. The review the commission will perform relates to the design and appropriateness of the new building being proposed, Maslowski said.
“It will be nice to see that site developed,” Maslowski said. “But we have to wait to see what the final plans are.”
“We're trying to improve the historic center,” Patel said.
Several years ago the Cape Cod Commission did a rendering of the property when the town was looking at ways of improving the village center. The commission suggested a mixed-use structure with retail on the first floor and apartments on the second floor.
“It would be beneficial to the neighborhood and the village to have that property cleaned up,” Town Planner Charleen Greenhalgh said. “If landscaped nicely it could look really, really nice there. Absolutely it will help revive Harwich Center. ”
She noted that there has been some revitalization, with the two restaurants and the new shop, Odile, selling art and creative apparel. “If we can get people to slow down when driving through there that would also be a plus,” Greenhalgh said.
No application for the project has been filed with the planning board as of yet, she added.