EASTHAM — If you hadn’t been paying such close attention, you might not know how much has changed on Route 6 in Eastham this year. The cars still barrel along, and the various projects underway on the main drag can seem to trail behind.
In the time that elapsed between the closure of the T-Time driving range in 2013 and last month’s announcement that it would become a mixed-use town center, I got my driver’s license, graduated from high school, then college. I’ve voted in two presidential elections.
It will likely be at least two more years before the town breaks ground on the project, which also includes the recently purchased Town Center Plaza. The word “T-Time” won’t appear in the news as much in 2022, as the North Eastham Town Center enters the master planning phase, which is expected to last the whole year.
A final town meeting vote on the site’s particulars will follow completion of the master plan. When all is said and done, Eastham is expected to have something more like a town center, including a community center and more housing that working people can afford. We don’t yet know how many new apartments the town center plan will create, but we do know that, according to its 2021 housing production plan, Eastham currently has a deficit of 195 affordable rental units and 380 home ownership units.
A number of aging motels along Route 6 may end up helping the town address that need. This year, Eastham got serious about the possibility of converting old, out-of-business motor inns like the Atlantic Breeze, owned since 2007 by real estate investor Bruce MacGregor of Brewster and Provincetown. How? The town’s Zoning Bylaw Task Force is working on warrant articles to make inclusionary zoning for motel conversions legal.
At the most recent select board meeting on Dec. 20, Town Administrator Jacqui Beebe said that these bylaws will likely come before voters at the 2022 Annual Town Meeting. They would then go into effect a year from now, after receiving the OK from the state attorney general’s office.
MacGregor has said that, before any Atlantic Breeze conversion happens, he plans to redevelop the former Nickerson service station, across the highway from Cumberland Farms. He bought it in a 2015 foreclosure auction for $275,000.
For years, a decrepit pickup truck has sat outside the old garage, the firewood in its bed slowly rotting. But new retail spaces could soon potentially replace the abandoned service station. Beanstock Coffee owner John Simonian said this week that he and MacGregor have talked about opening a location at 4515 State Hwy. Beanstock’s headquarters is nearby on Holmes Road. MacGregor said he thinks there will be two storefronts when the redevelopment is finished, but also that he’s still in the early stages of planning.
After nearly a year of discussion and steady encouragement from select board chair Art Autorino, the town this fall purchased several flashing speed signs to be strategically placed on Route 6. But because the Mass. Dept. of Transportation has jurisdiction over the road, the signs will not be installed and activated until sometime in 2022.
Emerald Grove and Salty Farmers, Eastham’s first and second recreational marijuana dispensaries, opened in 2021. To do so, they faced down a legal challenge about their locations, then both had long waits for state permits and inspections. Those hoping to have their marijuana delivered by a driver — the better to keep customers off Eastham’s superhighway — have more waiting to do. The planning board delayed issuing delivery company Kush Kart’s special permit until January because the police dept. needed more time to approve the company’s security plan.
Some things did happen quickly. In August, Sarah and Eddie Wilcox announced they were selling the Eastham Superette after running the business for nine years. As of last month, they have handed over the reins to convenience store business partners Jigar and Manny Patel of Boston and New York. Enjoy life in Maine, Sarah and Eddie.