Essex Crossing was a proposal for a mixed use development in Swampscott, MA. The site is a narrow parcel wedged between Essex Street and the commuter rail tracks. It is commercially zoned and flanked by commercial uses, but it is on the edge of a residential area. The developer sought residential development, but the Town wanted to maintain commercial uses in this area.
The proposed design addresses both desires, utilizing the mixed use building typology common in historic town centers in New England. At street level, commercial spaces occupy the ends of the building; due to the narrow approach from Essex Street, the ends of the building are prominent. The commercial units spill out into small courtyards on either side, suitable for café or garden shop occupancies. The second and third floors are occupied by residential units, with two entry doors on the street. The residential use requires parking, and this is provided on the street level, discreetly tucked between the more prominent commercial spaces. The storefront windows and signage bans enliven the street and reinforce the sense of community, making a home for the “third place” uses that create common ground for all.