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Historic Commission to Further Review Plans to Convert Former Friendly’s into Dunkin’ Donuts

Medfield's Historic District Commission met with Michael Cavallo, a Dunkin' Donuts franchise owner on Tuesday to review plans to convert the former Friendly's building to an "upscale Dunkin' Donuts." Both sides plan to meet again on June 5.

Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owner Michael Cavallo has filed an application with the Medfield Historic District Commission for a certificate of appropriateness – a signoff required before obtaining a building permit with the town.

Cavallo, of Sharon, owns several Dunkin’ Donuts, including the one at , and is interested in converting the on 563 Main St. into an “upscale Dunkin’ Donuts,” according to HDC officials.

“They filed an application with us and during the presentation they gave us copies of what the building will look like … Although they didn’t discuss it, I had heard from others that this is going to be an upscale Dunkin’ Donuts, that they’re trying to compete with Starbucks,” said HDC member Michael Taylor, who served as acting chair at Tuesday’s hearing. 

HDC Chairman David Sharff recused himself because he had provided architectural services to the applicant.

“They can’t get a building permit until they get a certificate [of appropriateness],” said Taylor, noting that the HDC’s role is only to review proposed changes to a building, in any of the town’s four historic districts, that can be seen from a public way.

The former Friendly’s building at the corner of Routes 109 and 27 is in the John Metcalf Historic District.

“We don’t get into uses and parking and what’s the best use of the building," Taylor said. "We ask ‘Are the changes they’re making appropriate given that it’s in an historic district?'”

Cavallo’s application dated May 15, describes the proposed work as “renovate interior of former Friendly’s building, exterior shall remain the same (sketches to follow), interior converted to a Dunkin’ Donuts (sketches to follow), parking lot to remain the same.”

Taylor said the proposed renovations are “very straight forward.”

“They’re altering some of the exterior features of the building to make it more Greek Revival, which is more in line with the surrounding structures … similar to when , we had them scale down the building and added certain Greek Revival elements to it,” he said, noting that they will replace columns with ones that are “more reminiscent of Greek Revival type features. ...

“They’re doing limited exterior work. 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.” Taylor said.

Selectman Osler Peterson saw the proposed plans after Tuesday’s meeting.

“The color elevations … that I saw, seemed to keep the same basic structure, just spiffed up the facade. The front plate glass windows were replaced with small pane windows,” Peterson said.

The applicant said they would keep the walk-up ice cream window, where they would like to sell ice cream. Several Dunkin’ Donuts shops sell Baskin Robbins ice cream.

The 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 street lights in the area. 

“We made those suggestions and they seemed to readily accept them,” Taylor said.

The applicant will revise the plans 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.” 

According to the 2005 “Guidelines for Changes Within the Medfield Local Historic Districts,” there are three categories of changes that the Commission considers, including changes to historic structures, changes to contemporary structures less than 50 years of age within historic districts, and new construction within historic districts. 

In this case, because the former Friendly’s building is less than 50 years old (built in 1975), the HDC will review criteria, including “windows, doors, roof lines, building materials, additions and fences. This work needs one of three certificates to be signed by the chair of the Commission before a building permit can be issued and work may be performed.”

If the applicant proceeds and if the HDC issues a certificate of appropriateness, the applicant would then file an application with the town for a building permit and a public hearing date would be set at that time.  

What do you think?

How do you feel about the prospect of Dunkin' Donuts moving into the former Friendly's building on 563 Main St.? Vote in our poll by and leave a comment below!

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