Earlier this week, Dunkin' Donuts emerged as the likely tenant for the former Friendly's building at 563 Main St. when Michael Cavallo, an owner of the popular coffee franchise, presented plans to Medfield's Historic District Commission.
If the HDC issues Dunkin' Donuts a certificate of appropriateness – something that could happen as soon as its June 5 meeting with Cavallo and his representatives – then the applicant will likely file an application with the town for a building permit and a public hearing date would be set at that time.
So, if Dunkin' Donuts does indeed move into the former Friendly's site on Main Street, what would it look like?
Included in Cavallo's presentation to the Medfield Historic District Commission at Tuesday's meeting were sketches (see photo gallery above) of what the building’s exterior would like if Dunkin’ Donuts moved into the space. Cavallo also proposed the following renovations to the Main Street property:
- Replace windows with new simulated divided light, clad, double hung windows
- Add new windows to Route 27 facade of building
- Replace existing chain link dumpster enclosure with new composite fence material
- Replace existing roof shingles
- Replace existing signage with new logo signage
- Add new covered portico at front entrance
- Replace existing covered portico at take-out window with new portico and pergola
- Remove existing rooftop satellite dishes and ventilation equipment
- Re-design/replace existing landscape materials
- Paint all trim tan or sand to complement existing brick
- Remove paint from existing brick quoins at corners of building
Richard DeSorgher, town historian and a member of Medfield's Downtown Study Committee, said while he hoped the former Friendly's would be filled with a "Panera-type restaurant or an ice cream shop," he's happy to see the space making progress in being filled.
"I am glad a business is going in, as empty buildings are not good in any downtown," DeSorgher said. "If it is Dunkin’ Donuts, I hope they are successful and will employ local youths and residents and continue to bring people into the downtown area, which will benefit the other local businesses."
As for the building's appearance, being located within the John Metcalf Historical District, DeSorgher said Friendly's did a "good job" working with the town to create a positive appearance in the town and he hopes Dunkin' Donuts will do the same.
"The Colonial-style building [of Friendly's] fit in and they planted a number of trees along [Routes] 109 and 27 that are now maturing and add a favorable image when entering Medfield from both those roads," DeSorgher said. "I would hope Dunkin' Donuts would continue with those efforts; continuing the Colonial lighting that is at Baxter Park and which _, _, _ and now _ will follow. The same would hold true with the brick sidewalk theme that is also established in that area and which area businesses have built upon."
Similar suggestions were made by the HDC to Cavallo, who will present revised plans to the commission on June 5.
“They’re doing limited exterior work,” said HDC acting chair Michael Taylor. “What we didn’t like was the cupola, it looked a bit like a lighthouse; we suggested they keep the existing cupola or come in with a scaled down version so it looks more like what a Greek Revival cupola would look like.”
HDC also asked Cavallo to consider adding a brick walkway – similar to those near Cumberland Farms and Baxter Park (and what is proposed for the CVS renovation) – as well as cast iron lighting that would also mirror streetlights in the area.
“We made those suggestions and they seemed to readily accept them,” Taylor said.
As a member of the Downtown Study Committee, DeSorgher is hopeful the next tenant to fill the former Friendly's building will include more outdoor seating to liven up the downtown.
"Our committee is also encouraging places to provide outdoor tables and seating to bring more life to the downtown," DeSorgher said. "As well as bike racks like the ones installed in front of _ and the _ and tree plantings; to make the area inviting and alive."
David Temple, co-chair of the Medfield Historical Commission and president of the Historical Society, echoed DeSorgher's reaction to the news of Dunkin’ Donuts emerging as a possible tenant for the Friendly’s space.
"Someone should be running a business there," Temple said. "It's not good to have an unoccupied commercial building."
While Temple is not a member of the HDC and has no involvement in the commission's meetings with Dunkin' Donuts, he did offer his thoughts on the prospect of the coffee shop taking over the space.
"From a historical point of view, I don't foresee any issues," Temple said. "Personally, I wonder about traffic issues with the morning eastbound traffic on Route 109 trying to cross over to get to Dunkin' Donuts and then loop back and resume the eastbound ride ... but that's something for the selectmen, police, and perhaps planning board and ZBA to worry about."
Temple said one issue that would likely cause the HDC concern is if a drive-thru was proposed on the site. As of now, no such proposal has been made.
"I don't believe there's room for a drive-thru window, and I don't think it's been proposed - but if there were such a proposal, I expect the HDC would have a significant issue with it," said Temple.
The applicant will revise the plans it presented Tuesday and meet again with the Historic District Commission on June 5.
Taylor said there will not be a public hearing on the application “because the changes aren’t really controversial … the changes that they’re making are incremental.”