Townhouse development proposed at Sunset and Fearing streets in Amherst

  • An artist’s rendering of the development at the corner of Sunset Avenue and Fearing Street in Amherst. CONTRIBUTED

  • Rendering of “Sunset & Fearing Street Development.” SUBMITTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Monday, November 29, 2021

AMHERST — A 17-unit townhouse development in the shadow of the tower dormitories in the Southwest Area of the University of Massachusetts campus is being proposed for a 2.2-acre parcel at the corner of Sunset Avenue and Fearing Street.

The process of constructing the new two-story homes, which would replace colonial-revival style single-family homes on the properties at 164 and 174 Sunset Ave., began with a hearing before the Local Historic District Commission on Nov. 15.

The commission, which reviews alterations to existing buildings and new projects within the North Prospect-Lincoln-Sunset and the Emily Dickinson local historic districts, will consider a certificate of appropriateness that would allow Amherst developer Barry Roberts, manager of property owner Fearing Sunset LLC, to demolish or relocate the homes. Fearing Sunset LLC purchased both properties last December.

Amherst Planner Ben Breger said the Historical Commission also would have to hold hearings on the historical significance of the homes before any development can occur.

Renderings for the project, designed by Kuhn-Riddle Architects of Amherst, show several townhouses, some connected to each other, with a parking area in between. Driveway access to the lot for the townhouses would come from Fearing Street.

The application to the town, submitted by Thomas Reidy, an attorney with Bacon Wilson PC of Amherst, includes both the illustrations of the development and a narrative.

“The proposed redevelopment has taken its architectural cues from existing structures, and the neighborhood, by specifically looking to include a varied roofscape, including gable roofs and dormers, traditionally detailed front porches/ entryways (and) similar masses,” the narrative reads.

Fearing Sunset LLC purchased the properties in December 2020 for a combined $1.07 million. The homes are across Sunset Avenue from the Amherst Creamery Office Building at 150 Fearing St. That building also houses the Sunset Grill & Pizza restaurant.

The homes that would be demolished or removed include a two-story white clapboard residence with attached garage at 164 Sunset built around 1942. Its first occupants were W. Burnet and Esther Easton. W. Burnet Easton Jr. was the director of religious activities at the Massachusetts Agricultural College.

The two-story yellow clapboard residence a 174 Sunset was built around 1923. Its first occupant may have been Luther Banta, who taught poultry husbandry at the agricultural college from 1918 until the 1950s.