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Wellesley development plan includes both housing, shops

The company developing one of Wellesley's largest and busiest tracts of commercial property says it hopes to turn the jumble of asphalt and random buildings into a pedestrian-friendly downtown area.

Jim Lamp, project manager for what Eastern Development is calling Linden Square, said the company intends to work with town officials and area residents to develop 18.5 of the 24 acres spread out on both sides of Linden Street. Work would begin in spring 2006.

Eastern Development, a Woburn-based company, purchased the property in June, setting off rumors about the site's fate. Eastern announced early on that it had signed a lease to keep Roche Bros. grocery store on the property. At the Sept. 20 Board of Selectmen meeting, Lamp said the company envisions moving the grocer into a larger building on the northern side of Linden Street and placing other businesses along the street front.

Lamp said the southern part of the property -- where Roche Bros. is currently located -- would have the same buildings it does now, but the entire area would be landscaped to provide for walkways, more convenient parking, and improved aesthetics. A hardware store is among the possibilities for the current Roche Bros. building.

The property currently contains 15 buildings in what Lamp described as a ''piecemeal" arrangement. He said plans call for the number to be reduced to 12.

Board Chairman Vin Juliani Jr. and other selectmen stressed that the new development include affordable housing.

Lamp said Eastern Development was ''looking into it" and would ''meet or exceed" the town's requirements.

Board members Laurence Shind and Peter Gubellini raised concerns about the number of parking spaces that would be available under Eastern's proposal.

Lamp said the plans call for up to 30 percent more spaces.

Lamp said Eastern Development would continue to meet with Linden Street area residents.

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