Parking lots near the Sandwich Marina are often packed by visitors who walk and bike along the Cape Cod Canal. And two giant tracts near the water are mostly wetlands and could not easily be built on, said Donald Powers, head of the architecture and design firm that led the master plan study.
But 22.5 acres owned by the town plus adjacent privately held land could provide a tract for development that would extend from the basin connected to the Cape Cod Canal that houses the marina to the jetties at the eastern end of the canal.
Previous studies, I think, have been based on not a whole lot of hard information about the actual physical possibilities of the land and the actual market that might exist for something to be done, said Powers, the owner of Union Studio in Providence.
But in coming decades, the town hopes to make infrastructure investments and lure private developers to the area. Private lands near the water could be rezoned, making them fertile ground for a resort hotel and housing.
Bud Dunham, Sandwichs town manager, said that regulatory barriers and recessions had stalled developments proposed in past plans.
Part of the towns 22.5 acres south of the marina could be a good location for condos, stores, and more parking, according to the plan. But the town would need to spend millions to extend utilities, landscape the area, and build roads and sidewalks first. The estimated cost to develop the town-owned parcel is $17.7 million, which is higher than its estimated market value of $15.4 million. The town might have to raise taxes or issue bonds to cover the cost.
It will require a substantial infrastructure upgrade in order to develop that town-owned parcel, but those infrastructure improvements also benefit the greater area, said Claire ONeill, vice president of planning and development for MassDevelopment, the states development agency.
Powers said the investments called for in the plan could take as long as 50 years to come to fruition.
The master plan calls for construction of 58 single-family homes and 40 condominium units and apartments, a 95-room hotel with 20 cottages that would face the water, 45,000 square feet of retail space, and a new municipal waste-water plant and transit station.
Empty nesters and people shopping for a second home are a target demographic for the area, according to the report.
Drafts of the master plan had included more buildings. In the final version, however, the biggest component would be parkland. Blair Haney, Sandwichs town planner, said more than two-thirds of the towns parcel cant be built on. The same is true of another vacant parcel east of the marina, Powers said.
Former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette was one of several developers who had previously proposed building sporting facilities in the waterfront area covered by the study, according to the Cape Cod Times, which described the possibility of opening a hockey rink and an Olympic-size swimming pool. But Haney and Paul Niedzwiecki, the head of the Cape Cod Commission, said Duquette and his development team would build their sporting complex in a different part of town. The developers could not be reached for comment.
According to the plans initial estimates, the new developments could cost $54 million to build and would generate an additional $792,000 in property taxes for the town every year.