Hudson eyes new housing development on downtown’s historic doorstep

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By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer

An aerial view of the Thomas Taylor Building (top left) alongside houses rising up Houghton Street
Photo/Hudson Historical Society

UPDATE – Developers withdrew plans for a proposed 89-unit residential complex on Houghton St. at a recent Planning Board meeting.
Proposed as an opportunity to bring housing into the downtown area, the proposal never advanced past the site plan review stage of the local approval process.
Along the way, it hit snags particularly relating to runoff and contamination concerns about the nearby Assabet River.
Acting Director of Planning and Community Development Kristina Johnson declined to comment on the latest decision.

Hudson – For a time this year, plans suggested that a relic of Hudson’s industrial age would soon become a central part of its future 

Located at 49 Houghton St., the Thomas Taylor Building once housed workers making shoes, according to state records. Until earlier this month, developers sought to give it a new identity, transforming the space into an 89-unit residential complex.

Though the plans were withdrawn, Acting Director of Planning and Community Development Kristina Johnson said such a project would be a logical next step for Hudson.

“If you want to have a vibrant downtown, having that residential component just adds to the economic sustainability,” she explained.

A current day photo of the site.
Photo/Dakota Antelman

Long desired by the current building owner, this effort, indeed, never got beyond site plan development.

Still, the presence of such a proposal lines up with recent efforts by Johnson and her team at Hudson’s Town Hall.

The town has poured money into extensive work on nearby South and Main streets. Local businesses, meanwhile, have found success and are beginning to work in hand with municipal officials to draw more pedestrian traffic.

Officials are also amending town bylaws and regulations as well.

Until recently, residential development was not allowed in Hudson’s central C-1 commercial zoning district. That changed as Johnson helped chart a new path for the town, and the district itself expanded specifically because of interest in housing at the Thomas Taylor Building, she said.

“Having folks living in the downtown area is a good thing,” Johnson said.

Not everyone in Hudson agrees, however. 

While the Houghton Street development was still moving forward, some spoke out online, worrying about increased traffic from such a large development. 

Those concerns, combined with frustrations surrounding a recent overhaul of the Wood Square Rotary, have not fallen on deaf ears in Johnson’s office. 

“The amount of [vehicle] trips generated is not what people think they are,” she said. “The whole idea of developing in the downtown core is to encourage more walking and biking.”

Johnson noted that this proposal is not the kind of commercial facility that draws in regional traffic. 

Explaining further, she said that the majority of the congestion that locals currently see on their roads is likely “cut-through” traffic generated not by attractions in town, but by GPS systems directing people through backroads to avoid rush hour jams on the highway.

“It’s not the traffic apocalypse,” she said.

While residential development in the downtown area remains a stated focus within long term town planning, Kristina Johnson declined to comment on the latest developments with the Thomas Taylor project.

Now that the 89-unit residential plan has been withdrawn, it remains further unclear what the future holds for that property.