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Developers of Essex Landing ask Saugus for height increases

(Photo courtesy Michael Barsamian)

SAUGUS — Like the Saugusorus that towers over the busy corridor of Route 1, developers are envisioning a high-rise that does the same.

The developers of Essex Landing, an eight-building residential and commercial complex at the former site of Route 1 Miniature Golf & Batting Cages, are asking the town to allow them to increase the height of three buildings from 64 feet to just over 67 feet.

The problem, said developer Michael Touchette, is that required ductwork won’t fit without adding about four inches to each floor.

A parking garage attached to building number three was previously approved to be 32 feet in height with three floors, but because of problems with the Tennessee Gas Line and the ledge in the area, the structure needs to be raised three stories to be 67 feet.

Project developers went before the Board of Selectmen last week to request the height increase, but the panel wasn’t quick to grant it.

“I respect Mr. Touchette’s explanation, but isn’t that why we have Planning Boards and Planning Board site visits and stuff like that? To check on things like this,” said Selectman Scott Brazis. “I made a motion that I’d rather see them go in and check these things out and let them come back to us and let us give the final stamp on it.”

TB Holdings Inc., an entity managed by Touchette and Michael Barsamian, bought a vacant 1.2-acre site next to the golf course in 2013 for $3.3 million, and they closed on the 1.4-acre golf parcel last September for $1.4 million. The project has an overall timeline of five years.

The first building will house either an 8,200-square-foot restaurant with a banquet space, or two smaller restaurants, with one-bedroom apartments on the upper floors, said Barsamian. He hopes to find a middle- to high-end restaurant that serves Italian cuisine.

In a phone interview Thursday, Barsamian said apartments in the first building are 50 percent occupied.

Next to be completed is a free-standing space to house Kane’s Donuts’ third location, a 3,500-square-foot cafe with a drive-through. The family-owned original store is on Lincoln Avenue. Last year they opened at International Place in downtown Boston. The cafe is expected to open in the next three weeks, said Barsamian.

An extended stay hotel will be positioned just behind the dinosaur. The Item previously reported that Lenox Hotel will partner with developers to create a boutique hotel on site. Barsamian said on Thursday he can’t disclose which hotel will be occupying the second hotel space.


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