WSH getting 700 units


WSH-hospital

Medfield bought the Medfield State Hospital a few months after Westboro bought the Westboro State Hospital, both under the same state partnership program.  Westboro has just cut a deal for dense over 55 housing (700 units on 38 acres), while keeping much of the site for town purposes.  The Westboro State Hospital site is near Rte. 9, and reportedly therefore more valuable.

This article yesterday in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette appears below –


WESTBORO – The town plans to sell about 38 acres of the former Westboro State Hospital property to a company that wants to build 700 housing units for people 55 and older.

After receiving three bids for the property and reviewing the intended use, selectmen voted unanimously to award the bid to Pulte Homes for $7 million.

The town will not receive all of that money.

The town purchased the 95 acres from the state in 2014 for $2.2 million, in the form of a zero-interest loan financed by the state over 10 years.

Under the land disposition agreement, the state will receive 45 percent of the proceeds, less the town’s cost while owning the property.

Town Manager James J. Malloy said it looks like the split will work out to be approximately $3.1 million for the state and $3.9 million for the town.

The town and the developer are finalizing the purchase and sale agreement, which is expected to be before selectmen Dec. 20 for approval.

“This is a really nice opportunity for us. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime shot,” Mr. Malloy said.

Town officials are excited about the project, which will have no effect on school enrollment and limited traffic impact. The town also will reap approximately $6 million to $6.5 million in annual projected tax revenue at full build-out.

“This is a property that the town has never collected property tax from in the past, and this provides a new revenue stream that will offset some additional projects the town is seeking to undertake,” Mr. Malloy said.

He said the town is looking at a potential library expansion project; a stand-alone pre-kindergarten building and renovations to Hastings Elementary School; replacement of the Fales Elementary School; and a Community Recreation Center. The estimated new tax revenue generated from a full build-out would pay the town’s cost of the future projects, Mr. Malloy said.

The proposed housing site, as designed, also fits nicely with a master plan the Recreation Department has been working on for the remaining approximately 57 acres that the town will retain. The land the town will keep includes six soccer fields that have been used for more than 20 years, as well as all waterfront areas along Lake Chauncy.

The state retained 12 acres where the state Department of Youth Services operates a girls’ detention center, and 6 adjacent acres where a new boys’ detention center is planned to be built. If that happens, the town would take ownership of the 3.53 acres where the boys’ detention center is currently located at no additional cost, Mr. Malloy said.

The town has asked Pulte to consider incorporating one of the two unsuccessful bids into its project. Gary Sloan Studios in Northboro bid $100,000 to acquire one building to convert into a studio with pop-up art exhibits. Reid A. Blute, Pulte’s vice president for land, said the request will be considered.

The other bid was from Lyman Street Development, owned by Nel Anton of Hopkinton, for a mixed-use development that would contain 300 housing units for people 55 and older, hotel/conference space and retail, restaurants and entertainment uses. The bid was for $2.1 million, but it also required waiving of water and sewer connection fees, estimated to cost between $1.9 million and $4.2 million.

Mr. Malloy said the latter proposal would have made a negative financial situation for the town.

Mr. Blute said the company is excited about having been chosen to develop the active adult community with recreational amenities on the land. He said it could be a couple of years before construction begins, after the permitting process. Full build-out and home sales could span six to seven years, he said.

“We know Westboro very well. We’ve been here for many years. We’ve built other homes in town and many communities in surrounding areas,” he said. “Westboro is a very desirable community and very well located for services and commuter access.”

The property dates to 1848, with the establishment of the Lyman School, and in 1884 the Westboro Insane Hospital was opened. The name was changed to Westboro State Hospital in 1907, and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. It closed in 2010.

The hospital’s peak population was 2,100 patients. It once employed a staff of 800. By 1984, there were only 260 patients and a staff of 397, according to National Register documents. Patients were treated for conditions such as melancholia and acute psychiatric disorders, and at one point, there was a population of “criminally insane women” in the 1940s, some of whom, because of crowding and “lack of proper accommodations, had killed an unspecified number of other patients,” according to documents detailing the hospital’s history.

Atlanta-based Pulte Homes began more than 60 years ago. It has built homes in 27 states. The New England headquarters is at 115 Flanders Road. More than 6,000 homes have been built in New England since the 1990s. Two of the first projects are the 12-home Prentiss Forest in Westboro and the 33-home Higgins Farm in Hopkinton.

In the region, the company has also built homes in Worcester, Berlin, Grafton, Northbridge and Upton.

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