Albion Commons owner eyes November opening

Albion Commons owner eyes November opening

New construction is wrapping up on both sides of George Washington Highway, one half mile west of Lincoln Mall. On the site of the former Chrysler Dodge dealership at 618 George Washington Highway, are three new free-standing buildings including Coastway Community Bank with a drive-through, PieZoni’s restaurant, Elite Physical Therapy, Fitness Together personal training, Sport Clips haircuts for men, and a spa-related business that has yet to be named. Across the street, a new Panera Bread is slated to open soon. (Valley Breeze PhotoS by Tom Ward)

LINCOLN - The intersection of George Washington Highway and Albion Road is about to get busier, as a bank, two restaurants and several retail locations prepare to open their doors next month.

Link Commercial Properties LLC owner Frank Paolino said the former "dead corner" has transformed in the past four years that he has owned the 2-acre property. Four buildings making up Albion Commons are under construction on both sides of the highway just south of the Lincoln Mall.

Sharing a newly repaved parking lot at 613 George Washington Highway with an existing Bank of America will be a 4,100-square-foot Panera Bread, which will be Howley Bread Group's first drive-through location in the state.

Across the street, on the site of the former Chrysler Dodge dealership at 618 George Washington Highway, are three new free-standing buildings housing a Coastway Community Bank with drive-through, PieZoni's restaurant, Elite Physical Therapy, Fitness Together personal training, Sport Clips haircuts for men, and a spa-related business that has yet to be named.

The 3,500-square-foot Coastway Community Bank building stands on its own, while the four other businesses are currently building out their storefront locations in the shared 6,570-square-foot building, Paolino said.

Paolino said despite the third building's original intent to be a 3,100-square-foot, 70-seat eatery, the tenant will not be a restaurant. He said the business will be spa-related, but declined to reveal any additional details.

He said the project, which included landscaping and installing two LED-lit signs, is moving along as planned.

"We've had a lot of activity as far as leasing, which speaks for the commerce in the area," Paolino said.

The businesses also share the corner, that Paolino said sees 30,000 cars a day, with A.T. Cross, Kiwi Burst, Sprint and Washington Hill Liquors.

Construction has also started on another project further north at 640 George Washington Highway.

Ralph Branca, owner of RJB Properties, said work on the foundation has started and his two-story, 34,000-square-foot office building should be completed by the fall of 2014. Longtime residents know the site to be on the spacious front lawn of the long-gone Blackstone Valley Electric headquarters.

Six to eight suites will be constructed, Branca said, but there are no tenants lined up yet. The building is permitted to allow doctor and medical offices, he said.

This will be the third and final building on the 9-acre property Branca has owned since 1995, he said. Marriott Residence Inn had previously expressed interest in the site, receiving Planning Board approval for a 99,700-square-foot hotel in 2009, but let the agreement expire because "the economy took a free fall," Town Planner Albert Ranaldi has reported.

Branca said he is hoping to get a cut-through installed on George Washington Highway so that cars could access the property directly, without having to make a U-turn further down the road.

Developer Ralph Branca reports that work on the foundation has started for his two-story, 34,000-square-foot office building, above, which should be completed by the fall of 2014. Longtime residents recognize the site to be on the spacious front lawn of the former Blackstone Valley Electric headquarters on George Washington Highway (Route 116), Lincoln.