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Design Review Board Looks At Design for Old District Court Site

DRB Talks Donuts, Switchgear, and A New Design For District Court

By William Legault


The Salem Design Review Board met Wednesday (25 JAN) night at the City Hall Annex to review portions of three separate projects taking place in the downtown Salem district.  Six of the seven board members were present with Paul Durand being the only absence.

The first project to appear before the board was Honey Dew Donuts at 99 Washington Street seeking approval for street signage on the facade of their business space.  After some discussion on the “crowded feel” of the proposed design and further discussion concerning the brackets used to hang the blade sign the design was approved contingent on further information being provided and some minor clearance issues being addressed.




National Grid was next with a proposal to install new “switchgear” equipment in the city owned parking lot at 21 Church Street. This equipments acts as a “breaker” when there is a problem in local power transmission. Currently the older equipment is all underground at the same location. The newer technology replacing it is a part of a state wide upgrade program.  This system involves underground connections accessible through a manhole with the equipment itself located above ground. The DRB expressed concerns about visual screening and the installation of bollards for protection from vehicular traffic.

The DRB will schedule a site visit.

This project still has to be vetted by the Salem Redevelopment Authority and the Traffic & Parking Commission.



Diamond-Sinacori LLC presented their new schematic plans for the mixed use development at 65 Washington Street, which is the old District Court building. The previous architectural firm has been replaced.

The new design proposes a “quieter and more contextual” building which will blend in with surrounding structures.

The underground parking has been eliminated for the project.  Current plans are to use the first basement of the existing building for some below grade parking and for the remainder of the parking to be at surface level screened from street view.  A parking ratio of 1/1 is proposed with the required remaining 1/2 space being supplied through agreement with the traffic & parking commission.  All of the “very elaborate” original foundation will be retained.

The current proposal calls for 62 units primarily comprised of 2-bedroom units with some single bedroom units. and also 3-bedroom units at the penthouse level with fireplaces and skylights.  There was much discussion as to facade design, set backs on Church Street, traffic impacts, and visual effects.

The design is not complete at this point and this will be heard again in February.

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