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Developers of Saugus’ Essex Landing want to increase building heights

Developers of Essex Landing-a mixed use development with residential and retail space, want to make the three apartment buildings taller. (Owen O'Rourke)

SAUGUS — Three buildings that surround the orange dinosaur could be a little taller, if the Board of Selectmen approves of the changes Wednesday night.

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 4 inches to each floor.

“On these three residential units we are going to raise the roof and lower the parapet (a low protective wall along the edge of a roof, bridge, or balcony),” said Touchette, who added that the only equipment atop the three buildings would be a 23-inch condenser.  

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 fall to request the height increase, but the panel wasn’t quick to grant it. The board asked the Planning Board to make a recommendation. Both boards attended a site visit in December.

Planning Board member Dorothy Poppe said during the visit, she and other members stood on top of the already existing buildings to see what is visible from the proposed height.

“You can’t see anything from the tops of those buildings that would concern me,” said Poppe.

Chairman Peter Rossetti agreed.

“If you’re on Route 1 or approximately at that height level, when you look up at the building, even if there was no parapet, I don’t think you’d be able to see anything,” he said.

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.

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