First of all, thank you to the roughly 350 people who attended our public forum for the revitalization of the Hanover Mall. It was an overwhelming response and we’re grateful so many residents are interested enough in the project to take time out of your busy schedules to come learn more.
You asked a lot of great questions, which is why we took those questions, provided answers, and put the entire thing on our website for everyone to reference. The answers provided at the meeting and any additional information is included below. Thanks again and please call us at the phone number at the bottom of the page or use the “Contact” form on this site to ask more questions that weren’t included here.
Q: “If variances aren’t granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals, how does that limit the proposal?”
A: If we can’t get the two variances we’re requesting from the ZBA, which relate to height of the building and rate of units to be built per year, then this residential product effectively goes away. Under the Town’s current bylaw, the rate of development would allow roughly 70 units per year and that simply doesn’t work from a phasing or efficiency standpoint, the height limitation of 35’ also would not be feasible since it would lead to more expensive construction and the site constraints would limit the development. We’d be back to square one and need to work with a less desirable, possibly more impactful use that would not provide the same synergy with the proposed Hanover Crossing development.
Q: “Why wasn’t the residential component mentioned during the TIF process and how could you move forward last year without it if mixed-use was so important?
A: When we talked about the financial model, from day one, we always had something in terms of income feeding into that model. We didn’t know if it was office space, a hotel, or residential, but we were very adamant some form of mixed-use would be situated on that nine-acre parcel, and we said that publicly. In fact, here is a Hanover Mariner article from January 2017 in which PREP says residential is a possibility. Shortly after the TIF was approved, Hanover Company approached us with a plan for luxury apartments and that’s where we are now. The reason we didn’t talk about these residential units during the TIF process is simply because we didn’t have any suitors then. If PREP had known there would be residential, it would have been part of the plan and presentations. PREP sees the residential as a positive to the redevelopment. But to be very clear, PREP has always and at every turn said “there’s going to be something here but we don’t know what it is.” Now we know. We note that since the residential is not part of the TIF it will be subject to full real estate taxes estimated at $900k/ year.
Q: “When I hear there is zero impact on water when you’re putting 300 units in, how is that possible?”
A: If you look big picture, we’re adding 300 residences and taking out 150,000 square feet of retail. For irrigation of our grass and landscaping, we’re digging our own wells. Currently we are using the Town’s water but we do not irrigate at all due to town bans. We will have a highly efficient onsite system with state the art meters be able to identify over use and react to and correct a problem. The idea is to reduce the usage of the Town’s water and to work with the town to remove water waste in the existing system. We hope to be a model of water stewardship in the town. That’s our goal and that’s why we’ve committed to work with the Town to achieve that goal.
Q: “Is there any talk of putting in cut-through roads for neighborhoods on other side of Route 53?”
A: We have no intention on making it any easier to go on any of the local roadways. In fact, our intent is the opposite, we want to use the existing capacity of internal mall infrastructure to improve what’s happening on Route 53 to reduce spillover on secondary roadways. To promote this, traffic signal timing modifications will be made along Route 53. We don’t want people using cut-throughs, we want them to stay on main roads. The internal reconfiguration of Hanover Mall Drive—long used as a cut through will discourage that cut through traffic.
Q: “The state requires all cities and towns to have 10% affordable housing, so why not put some units in as affordable to keep us well above that number?”
A: That is an option that has been discussed and we are fully open to that if the Town wants to go in that direction. However, after talking about the issue with town officials on the Affordable Housing Trust, they feel it could be more beneficial to the Town if we did a payment to the Trust to help achieve their goals in lieu of making a certain number of units affordable. The Town indicates that 300 market rate units do not threaten its 10% standing, and the Town is likely inoculated until the 2040 census. Just keep in mind, if we do make more units affordable that likely means more school-aged children.
Q: “Why can’t you build condominiums?”
A: Hanover Company does not develop for sale condominiums.
Q: “If you get a zoning variance for height won’t everybody else start building structures higher as well?”
A: “The height issue is a site-by-site issue and if this were closer to your house or in a residential neighborhood, it would likely not be allowed. Our project is in a heavily commercial zone filled with businesses, not single-family homes. The Hanover Crossing property is unique to Hanover. It has Third Herring Brook and its associated wetlands that limit development on the property and require the height variance to make the project feasible. That same uniqueness ensures that the residential development will not be readily visible from surrounding properties. Every petition for a variance must be approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Q: “How long will businesses be closed during construction?”
A: We plan to start in early 2020 and the construction of new retail would be finished in mid- to late-2021, meaning the businesses would be closed for approximately 18 months.
Q: “Why do you need 300 units?”
A: 250-400 units is industry standard. Our proposal fits nicely on the site and we’re trying to maximize revenue to save this mall and make this project economically viable for the long term. It’s what works for the site and for us financially.
Q: “Who will rent these apartments?”
A: We anticipate Millennials just starting out as well as empty-nesters. There is a very limited supply of high-end quality options for those two ends of the spectrum. The South Shore needs to be able to attract businesses and you need young, qualified employees for that. The South Shore and suburban communities have to compete with places closer to the city.
Q: “Are you willing to commit to zero impact on water?”
A: Right now, given the existing state of this retail development, our water usage on the retail side is way down from 2007 when 98% occupied. With the new retail and less square footage, our hope is our water use will be similar to when we were close to 100% occupied. When we talk about a zero increase in water use we’re talking about using other methods such as metering, unaccounted for water, recharge, digging our own wells and working with the town to remove water waste in the existing system. We hope to be a model of water stewardship in the town.
Q: “Are you considering any improvements to the bridge at Third Herring Brook?”
A: The sightlines and condition of the roadway are all addressed in the traffic study. We recognize there will be increased traffic and our study comes up with solutions to address that. But we don’t want to make it so attractive you start inducing more traffic to that area. Also, we need to address the high speeds at which people are driving. We plan to make the entrances on Route 53 more functional and attractive so people will use them more, and we’ll be working with the Town on potential mitigation.
Q: “Will new classes, computer labs, etc have to be added because of the schoolchildren who are come to town via the new apartments?”
A: We project 30 school-aged kids for the residential project. We have met with Hanover’s Superintendent and he believes there is capacity, even with an error factor, to house these kids. There will be no need for another school, more teachers, etc. Even assuming we’re wrong by 50% and there are 45 kids, they are scattered throughout all the grades. Also, some inevitably go to private school. With all these factors it’s clear students will be dispersed among 12 grades which means the impact is not going to be significant.
Q: “Why weren’t Norwell residents on Mill Street notified sooner?”
A: We haven’t filed our plans and there have been no board meetings on our proposal. Once we file and hearings are scheduled all abutters will be notified (as required by law) and encouraged to attend and participate. The public forum was not mandatory, but we wanted to do it because we’re committed to being transparent with everyone in the community so they have additional opportunities to be heard. There will be several more opportunities to speak about the project when the Zoning Board of Appeals holds its hearings, and all are welcome and encouraged to attend.
Q: “Is PREP using state-of-the-art tankless systems and low-flow fixtures?”
A: Hanover Company always uses low-flow and highly efficient fixtures and appliances. Hanover Co.’s precedent projects actual water usage is significantly lower than Title V, see below. Hanover Company’s property management teams rarely get complaints about water pressure from residents. If issues related to water pressure arise, booster pumps can be added. Hanover has NEVER had to add booster pumps to 4-story buildings, which is what is proposed.
Here are the actual usage statistics from some of Hanover Company’s existing and previous developments:
- Hanover Pinehills = 77 gallons per bed per day
- Hanover Cambridgepark = 53 gallons per bed per day
- Hanover Shady Grove = 41 gallons per bed per day
- Hanover Brewers Hill= 32 gallons per bed per day