CHATHAM – The former Cumberland Farms store at 859 Main St. may have a new life as an office building.
Next Tuesday, June 12, the planning board will hear a proposal to change the use of the property from retail to professional offices. SV Design, which currently has offices at 403 Main St., is proposing to move its architectural and design firm to the former convenience store/gas station.
“We're committed to being in Chatham,” said Thaddeus Siemasko, a principal and architect with the firm, previously known as Siemasko and Verbridge. The company also has an office in Beverley and has been in Chatham for three and a half years. “We want to be established here and have a permanent home.”
The proposed redesign of the building, which will require the approval of the historic business district commission, restores it to the classic look of the original filling station built on the site in 1964. It retains the cupola on top of the roof, and the original four garage bay doors are restored as windows. Trim will match the original building. The goal is to have the building “look like it's always been there and it fits,” Siemasko said, adding the original gas station designs were found and used as a basis for the new design.
“This seemed like a great opportunity to take what everyone would acknowledge is a bit of an eyesore now and turn it into a real positive project for the town,” he said.
The building was Goodspeed's Gulf Station until 1986, when Cumberland Farms opened a convenience store and self-service gas station at the location. Cumberland Farms closed the store nearly two years ago when it opened at its current site down the road at the downtown rotary.
The footprint of the 2,171-square-foot building will not change, Siemasko said, but the site will be improved through the removal of paved area. The open area on the 27,400-square-foot parcel will increase from the current 17 percent to 40 percent, and the easternmost curb cut will be eliminated. Some of the pavement will remain as a half basketball court, the planning board filing states.
With the new design, the property will serve as a transition from the more commercial area east of the Route 28-Crowell Road intersection to the more residential area to the west, he said. The office use will be less intense than the previous retail use, he added.
“Generally it's going to be kind of nice and quiet,” Siemasko said.
A company formed by SV Design, Fresh Milk, has an agreement with Cumberland Farms to buy the property once the redevelopment process is completed. “Fresh Milk” is a take on Cumberland Farms' diary business, Siemasko said.
“We thought of this as a fresh look,” he said.
An HBDC hearing to review the exterior changes to the building has not been scheduled.