Redevelopment Authority endorses business man’s proposed Main Street project
After hearing Wareham native Danny Warren’s plans to build a 16-slip marina, restaurant and an events venue on Main Street, the Wareham Redevelopment Authority unanimously voted to endorse the project.
Warren is a business owner whose successful environmentally-friendly epoxy businesses have left him with money he hopes to invest in his hometown. He presented his plans for the old Greer Lumber site on Main Street between Besse Park and the British Landing Condominiums during the Redevelopment Authority’s April 1 meeting.
Warren explained his project in multiple parts. First, he outlined a large events/convention building that will operate for part of the year.
The space will likely be used for weddings from March until June, before turning into “a restaurant for the summer months,” he said. Then, from around September to Christmas, ”we want it there for Christmas parties and things like that,” Warren explained. He also said he hoped the building could serve as a destination for meetings and events run by other towns or state boards.
“I go to a lot of those things, and they’re always looking for places to seat a couple hundred people for an afternoon for a big meeting,” Warren said.
The second part of the project is a restaurant that would be open year-round “to keep the place alive,” he said.
Finally, Warren added, there would be a seasonal summer ice cream shop and small bakery “for donuts and stuff like that.”
Warren noted, however, that there were currently a number of hurdles preventing the project from going forward — most notably: parking space availability and a 50 foot setback requirement in the wetland bylaws.
Warren said if the project was forced to adhere to a 50 foot “No Activity Zone” buffer along the waterfront “then all those [plans] are just grand ideas, because there’s not enough parking in the world to accommodate it.”
Board member Richard Swenson pointed out that the Board of Selectmen had just approved putting an article on the upcoming Spring Town Meeting warrant that would allow voters to make a change to the wetland bylaws, removing the required “No Activity Zone” along the waterfront for the Wareham Village One district, where the old Greer Lumber site is located.
With that in mind, Swenson said the concerns about the 50 foot setback “hopefully will be resolved soon.”
Warren also expressed concerns about what he described as a “tremendous amount of drug activity” near the site.
“I think that would be a death knell to everything I’m trying to do if that doesn’t get curbed somehow,” Warren said, noting that he wasn’t just talking about the cannabis dispensary near the site. “I’m talking about serious drugs — and if you get down along the raised wall there’s ample evidence of the needles and all the stuff that’s going on there.”
Water, sewer and drainage would also be considerations, Warren said.
Warren said he thought the hurdles “could all be overcome,” and he emphasized to the board that his plan was to develop the land and operate a “long-term family business” at the site.
Warren pointed out he’d gathered more than 500 signatures from people in town, “so there’s tremendous neighborhood support for this,” he said.
After hearing Warren’s plans and the community support he’d generated, the Redevelopment Authority voted 5-0-0 to endorse the project and write a letter in support of it.
Warren also told the board that he’d bought a second property on Main Street — 176 Main Street where Advanced Engine is located — “because it started looking like the other property was not going to work out.”
Although nothing is certain, the future of that property might be a “really high-end steakhouse,” Warren said.