Developers want to knock down the now-shuttered Papa Razzi restaurant and put in a new commercial plaza. Photo by Celeste Katz Marston

Plaza plans for Papa Razzi site? 

By Celeste Katz Marston
September 21, 2023

Developers envision razing the former Papa Razzi trattoria and putting up a new building whose tenants could include restaurants, a bank and an urgent care clinic.  

But some worried residents who tuned in to a recent presentation to the Planning Board on the future of 768 Elm Street envision a potential uptick in trash, traffic and noise.  

The Elm Street trattoria closed its doors in June. Neighbors tell the Planning Board they’re concerned about the traffic and noise a new development could bring. Photo by Celeste Katz Marston

After years of serving up Italian fare, Papa Razzi called it quits in June, citing issues with its lease. The site sits between the former Asian Gourmet restaurant — which is on its way to being reborn as Concord’s fifth Dunkin’ — and the Best Western motel, which is now serving as an emergency shelter.  

While the Papa Razzi building was about 8,800 square feet, the new four-tenant building would grow to 15,000 square feet to house two larger and two smaller businesses. It’s not clear yet exactly which businesses would set up shop at the plaza, Kerry McCormack of developer Crosspoint Associates told the board. One proposed restaurant could be of the “fast casual” variety — not “fast food,” like McDonald’s, but more on the order of Chipotle or Five Guys. 

The plaza’s exterior would be designed to fit in with local architecture “and the stylistic preferences that have already been set,” Aksel Solberg of HFA Architects & Engineers said during last Tuesday’s meeting. That would include clapboard siding, gooseneck lighting, asphalt shingle roofing and fabric awnings. 

The number of parking spots on the now-heavily paved property is projected to drop from 143 to 115, with outdoor patios and updated landscaping: “Overall, I think it’s close to a third of an acre that we’ve returned from pavement or impervious space,” McCormack said.  

The site, which abuts the Assabet River, would also get new septic and stormwater treatment systems. Utility lines could be set underground, and McCormack said his group is in talks with Concord Municipal Light Plant, Concord Drives Electric and Tesla about installing electric vehicle charging stations: “It’s a good commuter location — a good opportunity for people to park, charge, and eat or drink.” 

The Planning Board’s Abby Flanagan, among others, questioned the applicants’ contention that the development wouldn’t boost traffic in the area. The bank would feature a drive-up ATM as well as walk-in service. 

“I can say from firsthand experience the delays in queueing often extend past the gas station in the evenings accessing Route 2, so I do have concerns,” she said.   

Crosspoint Associates says the proposed new building could have four commercial tenants, including a bank, multiple restaurants or a medical office. This image from its September 12 presentation to the Planning Board shows the building’s facade.

Select Board Clerk Mary Hartman also urged the developers to consider the traffic impact of the proposed NOVO Commons development, which calls for two new buildings with a total of about 200 apartments on nearby Baker Avenue.  

Ken Cram of Bayside Engineering noted the town is contracting for a peer review of the traffic plan.   

Michael Dettlebach of Assabet Avenue was one of several residents who weighed in on potential lighting issues, delivery noise, garbage and traffic. “If that’s an urgent-care facility operating at all hours of the day,” he said, “if you’ve got two restaurants, plus the Dunkin’ Donuts in there, [I] don’t see how you reduce the traffic.”  

The Planning Board voted to approve Town Planner Elizabeth Hughes’s suggestion to take up the project again on October 10.