NORTH SMITHFIELD – A highly visible property that’s been vacant since Beef Barn Restaurant moved to Industrial Drive could see construction of a convenience store and gas station if a project discussed before the Planning Board last week moves forward.
Potential purchaser Robert Fadel hopes to build an eight pump gas station featuring a store and a drive through on the 1 acre lot at 3 Greenville Road. The project is in the very early stages, with a group seeking feedback from planners on a draft design at a meeting on Thursday, Oct. 26.
“What we wanted to do is really put it in front of the board this evening and sort of get some feedback and thoughts before we delve into master planning,” said an attorney speaking on behalf of the developer, Elizabeth Noonan of Providence-based Adler, Pollock & Sheehan.
Current plans envision a 3,550-square-foot convenience store and gasoline station with a drive-through window and a 15-space parking lot.
The property is owned by Greenville Road Development, a real estate holding company started by the Valleire family of North Smithfield. It was once the location of two poular restaurants in town: The Beef Barn and Coffee & Cream. The building holding Coffee & Cream was destroyed in a fire in 2017 and was demolished, with that restaurant ultimately reopening in Slatersville Plaza.
Beef Barn owner Marc Branchaud, meanwhile, constructed a replica of his barn-style restaurant on the former Homestead Gardens property. In July of last year, the original building came down, leaving behind a paved, empty lot at the busy intersection.
“It’s pretty much all asphalt from Smithfield to Greenville Road,” said Philip Henry of Civil Design Group, LLC, also appearing on behalf of Fadel, who owns several gas stations in neighboring Massachusetts.
Noonan said the team has been in discussions with Town Planner Marc Carrulo for the past year looking at potential designs.
The project will require planning approval, as well as a special use permit to build a gas station in a Business Highway zone and multiple dimensional variances from the Zoning Board.
On Thursday, planners cited issues for the group to keep in mind as plans move forward.
“One in particular consistent concern that I’ve heard from people abutting such endeavors is the brightness of the lights and how that impacts their home environment,” said Planner Cynthia Roberts.
Roberts also pointed to abundance of impervious surface in the area. CT Gas occupies the property immediately across Greenville Road and across Smithfield Road, properties over the town line in Woonsocket include a small shopping center and a storage facility now under construction.
“It’s a lot of commercial,” said Roberts. “I would be very interested in how that environment can be softened and greened.”
Board members also cited traffic concerns at the early discussion, with Planner Jeffrey Porter noting the proposed exit is situated close to the traffic light.
“It was always difficult to get off and on that site,” Porter said.
More detailed design plans are expected back before the board in the coming months.