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Renovations in downtown include parking designation

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FARMINGTON – The planning board officially accepted the site review application for the installment of a set of offices and apartments near the municipal parking lot in downtown Farmington Monday, the first step in the process.

Foothills Management owner Bill Marceau, whose company is the town’s largest real estate development and management company, wants to remodel the building that sits at the rear of 184 Main Street. The 2,600 square foot building, located behind the former Howard’s Rexall pharmacy and future Tranten’s grocery store and Amato’s sandwich shop, is most readily identified by the large drive-through passage that takes up roughly one third of the ground floor.

Marceau is interested in closing that drive-through off and renovating the building. On the ground floor would operate a silk screening and embroidery business, as well as a small office. On the second floor, Marceau would like to create three two-bedroom apartments.

In a related matter, Nathan Morin has submitted his own site review to operate his business, Black Bear Graphics, out of that building. Morin currently runs the operation with his wife, Amy, out of their home in Industry, focusing on promotional goods for businesses and similar markets.

“We’ve got a lot of revisions to do,” Marceau noted. The structure currently has no access to water, sewage or power, and will require substantial modifications to serve as a commercial and residential building.

Perhaps the largest impact to the downtown from the project would be to the amount of parking available.

Marceau’s plan calls for 18 spaces near the building to be set aside for tenants, including some for the nearby Tranten’s. That store, which is currently being remodeled, is expected to open within the next couple of months.

Marceau noted that while some members of the public may believe that entire area is part of the municipal lot, his company actually owns several spaces. To help ease the transition, Marceau will appear in front of the board of selectmen tonight to explain what the new layout could look like and answer questions.

The drive-thru’s removal may also spark some debate. That would create a small, isolated lot behind Tranten’s, which would accessed through the Main Street driveway.

“It’s not ideal,” Marceau said, “but there is room.” He added that he intended the project to be as least intrusive as it could be while still functioning.

Marceau, a planning board member himself, abstained from the vote on the project. Another member, Craig Jordan, also recused himself, as he owns property which abuts the proposed development.

“It’s tough to see that parking lot go away,” he said, “but if he owns it, he owns it.”

Marceau said that he hoped the new building, along with other local modifications such as the Tranten’s, would improve that area of Farmington.

“We have a shell of a building out there right now,” he said. “We’re running power and water out there. It should be really nice.”

Further planning board meetings on the project will take place early next year.

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