By ADAM SWIFT
LYNNFIELD — In one form or another, the Ship has sailed on Route 1 in Lynnfield for nearly a century.
But now it looks like approvals are falling in place for a new retail plaza to replace the distinctive landmark.
The town Planning Board approved a plan for the property at 24-38 Broadway, pending zoning board approvals for several variances related to signs and lighting on the property.
“We plan to demolish the existing ship facility, which has been there since the 1920s,” said Ted Regnante, the attorney representing the Ship Mall, LLC, which owns the Ship building and the neighboring building, which is leased to the Christmas Tree Shops. “It’s useful life has expired, and the building is in need of substantial renovations.”
The cost of those renovations would exceed the cost of the plans to tear down the existing building and replace it with the new plan. Under the new plan, there will be two buildings. The first will house two retail spaces and one coffee shop with a drive-through. The second will be a freestanding bank with a drive-through.
Together, the two buildings will total about 12,500 square feet. There will be no changes to the building that houses the Christmas Tree Shop, Regnante said.
Regante said his client is currently in negotiation for an upscale coffee shop for the plaza.
“We can’t announce who it is tonight, but it is not a Dunkin’ Donuts,” he said. “You can probably guess who it is, but I can’t confirm or deny that.”
There will be some changes to the parking and driving patterns in the parking lot, including opening up an entrance to the plaza on Daley Road, just off Route 1. Overall, Regnante said 310 parking spaces are required for the site, including the Christmas Tree Shop, and 380 will be available.
“There is a huge parking lot in the rear that is almost never used,” Regnante said. “We will be requesting that all employees park there to free up spaces in the front.”
Planning board member Alan Dresios raised concerns about plans for signs and lighting in the proposal. He said the plans call for signs with interior lighting, but regulations in the light industrial district do not allow for signs with interior lights, but rather signs lit by a single spotlight.
Regnante suggested that Dresios and the planning board make a summary of its suggestions for lighting and signage so that they can try to accommodate any issues when they go before the zoning board for a variance next month.
Planning board member John Faria said he had no problems with the plans presented for the Ship site, provided the proposals receive the necessary variances before the zoning board.
Not everyone in town is content to watch the Ship’s demolition.
Steve Todisco, chairman of the Lynnfield Historical Commission, said on Friday that he has been made aware of a clause in the town charter which may allow for the designation of the Ship as a historic landmark.
He said the Historical Commission will be meeting at 6:20 p.m. on Tuesday at Davio’s Restaurant to discuss potential steps for preserving the building.