Developer plans duplexes on Smith St.; review Nov. 13

Developer plans duplexes on Smith St.; review Nov. 13

NORTH PROVIDENCE - The owner of the Gold's Gym plaza on Smith Street wants to build the "Hammersmith Estate," a development of new duplexes just up the road.

Joseph Romano is breaking the town's months-long drought of no development proposals with his "major land development" plan to build new housing on 2.76 acres of property behind the Wine and Cheese Restaurant.

The proposal is set to go before the North Providence Planning Board for a "pre-preliminary stage" review on Nov. 13.

Romano told The Breeze Monday that Hammersmith Estate would be a "beautiful development," with owners of affordably upscale units provided a "nice view" of the surrounding area from the hillside. The project has been in the works for about 18 months, said Romano. Pricing on the duplexes, which will be full of "quality work," will be determined at a later time, he said.

Romano is offering two "development schemes" for consideration.

* A "conventional subdivision" of six lots would bring six duplexes, or 12 units. The lots would cover slightly more than 15,000 square feet each.

* A "cluster-style subdivision of six lots would bring four duplex lots, a fifth lot with a "triplex," and a sixth lot, containing the majority of the overall land area, would be used as an open space lot. There would be a total of 11 units on various lot sizes in the second proposal.

Romano said he would prefer the "cluster" idea because it would "look nicer," but said "it will depend on what the town lets me do."

The plans have been submitted by Waterman Engineering Company, of Providence on behalf of Romano and his JR Realty of Boston as the applicant.

Ed Civito, director of planning and zoning for the town, said it is still too early in the process to analyze the merits of Romano's proposals. The Planning Board will decide one way or another based on the details of the plan presented, he said.

Romano said he expected the approval process for his project would be well on its way toward completion by this point, but slow progress has pushed construction back at least to next spring, he said. He would have expected town officials to move quicker on the plan, noted Romano, especially given the lack of other projects being proposed in the town.

Neighbors have been "very cooperative" to date, said Romano, and he put up a nice fence around the property to make them happy.

The North Providence Tax Assessor's database shows that Romano purchased 2.84 acres of property at 1865 Smith St. in November of 2012 for $105,500. The property includes a brick house, which Romano had subdivided out on 10,000 square feet of land, and a large wooded area for the planned duplexes.

The property at 1865 Smith St. is currently valued at $370,800, according to the town's database, or $210,700 for the land and $160,100 for the home.

Romano said he has a proven track record with the development of the gym complex of creating quality developments that really improve the area.