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GROTON — Still early in the review process, plans by Groton Center Farms owner Dan McElroy to transform the old Center Fire Station into a combination retail and residential property have met with a friendly reception from town officials.

McElroy plans to renovate the historic structure and alter the building’s existing appearance to better reflect its original look when it was an Oddfellows Hall before it became a fire station in the 1940s. Inside, the ground floor would be converted into a pair of commercial spaces possibly selling produce and renting bicycles and the second floor into a residential apartment.

The Board of Selectmen voted to approve a purchase-and-sales agreement with McElroy last spring after the former fire station was abandoned with the completion of a new station located off Farmers Row.

According to the sale, McElroy agreed to purchase the property for $100,000 having already given the town a $15,000 deposit.

McElroy attorney Robert Collins, in a presentation to the Town Center Overly District Design Review Committee, said his client’s plans call for digging up the existing asphalt paving in the front of the building and turning it into a patio area. A strip of land running alongside the structure leading to the rear will be resurfaced as a driveway with permeable material.

When completed, the work will have created up to four parking spaces in the back of the building intended for use by residents and employees of the first-floor business.

McElroy’s plans received an early boost when the ConsCom approved them. He entered the Oct. 23 meeting with the Overlay District Design Review Committee in a good position for a like approval.

“This building is somewhat maligned,” said Collins. “But it’s really not a bad building.”

Collins referred to the building as it currently looks with its four garage bays, asphalt driveway and overgrown rear area.

In designs shown to the committee, redesign of the building will include entirely new facing that would replace the bay doorways with large display windows and doorways and the asphalt driveway with a rainwater-permeable patio area. The rear of the building would be landscaped.

In addition, such amenities as awnings over the display windows and shutters by the upstairs windows would add a quaint and welcoming touch to the former fire station.

“It is a very nice design,” concluded Collins. He said he sees the project as a “model” for future development along Station Avenue.

“It’s a very sweet little project,” agreed committee Chairman Dan Barton. It’s a good sign for the project that committee members had few comments on the overall plan and could move on to details.

The committee is charged with making sure any project taking place within the downtown area, including Station Avenue, conforms to overlay district guidelines covering areas like architectural design and economic impact.

Concerns raised by the committee included handicapped parking, sidewalks, landscaping, signage, lighting, drainage, paving and the maintenance of the town’s interest in seeing new businesses along Station Avenue remain pedestrian friendly.

“I’m very excited about this project,” said committee member Lorraine Black.

The committee voted to continue the public hearing to Nov. 17, when the applicant is expected to return with adjustments to his plans.

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