The first phase of work to convert Penguin Hall in Wenham into a senior living units will include 192 units, up from the original plan for 150 units.
The change has been made, according to property owner and developer Jim Mullen, based on feedback from future residents.
As prospective owners , and Chris Wise of Wise Living, they asked whether there would be construction close-by if they bought a unit and moved in the main building. And Mullen said, yes, under the initial phasing plan that would have been the plan.
"These people had a point," Mullen said.
Under the new phasing plan, Phase 1 will include the conversion all of the main building – Penguin Hall – and Phase 2 will be construction of detached manor homes.
Right now, Mullen and Wise are working on coming up with the exact mix for unit size in Penguin Hall. The unit mix puzzle will be “solved” by the end of August, Mullen said, and he hopes to have plan ready by October for the 100 people who have paid a $1,000 refundable deposit to pick out a unit.
The unit size mix is going to based, in part, in the results of a survey of about 40 people who have paid the deposit and hope to live there. That, Mullen said, will be extrapolated to 192 units.
“We do feel a sense of early success,” Mullen said as he updated the Wenham Planning Board on the project on Friday at .
Mullen said he is also working on drawings of the project, which would be needed for the special permit and hopes to be ready with those to come back to the board by the end of September.
At the same time, the Wenham Planning Board also gave Mullen the OK to put up a sign at the driveway from Essex Street that leads to Penguin Hall.
The sign was issued a special permit, which renews each year and can be reviewed and revisited. The board, in a 3-0 vote, found that the sign would not be detrimental to the neighborhood or the town.
The sign was approved as a temporary sign and the board can revisit its approval at any time, said Chairman David Geikie.
“This is not something that is set in stone,” he said.
The sign shows Penguin Hall and includes an “very elegant” photo of the building, Mullen said in response to concern from a neighbor who felt the sign had the look of a billboard and is not in line with the bucolic nature of Essex Street (Route 22) between the Centerville neighborhood ion Beverly and Grapevine Road in Wenham.
“This is a billboard and this is advertising,” Mullen told the board. “There is no question about that.”