Developer says town will receive ‘significant tax benefit’ from Westborough State Hospital project

By Andrew Strecker, Senior Community Reporter

Westborough – The town of Westborough will experience a significant tax benefit from the proposed 700-unit, 55-plus residential redevelopment of the former Westborough State Hospital property, according to the project’s developer.

Reid Blute, vice president of land acquisition for the developer, Pulte Homes, told the town’s Economic Development Committee Jan. 9 that the town would see $4.7 million in annual tax revenue upon the project’s stabilization, including $4.25 million in annual property tax revenue. Westborough has never collected property tax from the 36-acre site of the proposed development before.

“Ninety-one cents of every tax revenue dollar will go to the town” after services, said Blute. As a 55 and over community, the project is expected to have no effect on the town’s school enrollment and a limited traffic impact.

Blute also told the committee that the residences would be sought after by current Westborough residents.

“Based on our marketing studies, there will be a significant demand from current Westborough homeowners age 55 and older looking to downsize upon hitting that age milestone. This development will be the ideal spot to stay in town and the community. The demand is there,” said Blute.

All 700 units, a mix of one- and two-bedroom condominiums, will be age restricted, requiring at least one person 55 or over and no one under the age of 18. One-bedroom units will be 900 square feet and two-bedroom units will be 1,500 to 1,600 square feet, according to Blute.

According to the proposal, 14 four-story buildings will each contain 50 residential units and an underground parking garage with an elevator. The residential buildings will encompass a central green common space that will connect to a walking trail network.

“One of the most important concepts is the lifestyle clubhouse,” said Blute. The clubhouse will include a pool and be staffed by a lifestyle director. “It is a social focal point,” said Blute.

Other planned amenities include tennis and pickleball courts.

“A core criteria of this project is coordinating our design with the town’s future plans that include a recreation area for Westborough residents,” he added. The proposed town recreation area includes six already existing soccer fields, open space and water access to Lake Chauncy.

The project, which Blute said is valued at over $260 million, is currently in the permitting stage. The current next step for Pulte Homes is an application for a special permit to the planning board. That submission is targeted for mid-February, according to Blute, who added that construction could begin as soon as the fourth quarter of 2018. The building process is expected to last until 2023.

Prior to any building, Pulte Homes is responsible for environmental remediation studies and then razing 43 buildings equaling 600,000 square feet that were part of the former state hospital.

When asked by the committee if the project could withstand an economic downturn, Blute replied, “We feel this community can withstand economic hiccups.”

The state closed the former hospital in late 2010, moving patients housed there to a facility in Worcester. The town purchased the property from the state in July 2014 for $2.2 million.

After a two year process of studying options for the disposition of the property the Board of Selectmen voted in 2016 to award the bid to Pulte Homes for $7 million.

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