Marlborough residents voice opposition to WoHo development 

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By Stuart Foster, Contributing Writer

Marlborough residents voice opposition to WoHo development 
A rendering shows a proposed development by Cambridge company, WoHo. (Screenshot/Via City of Marlborough)

MARLBOROUGH – Residents sent a number of letters to their city councilors opposing a proposed mixed-use development submitted on behalf of Cambridge developer, WoHo, for 28 South Bolton St.

The letters were included as their own agenda item for the June 14 Marlborough City Council meeting – the first meeting held entirely in-person since a March 9, 2020 meeting 461 days ago. 

City Councilor Kathleen Robey offered a motion to accept and place on file the communication from residents, which then was unanimously approved by the City Council.

Most of the letters from residents took aim at the architecture of the six-floor building, which will have retail space on its ground floor and forty residential units on its higher floors. 

“It is truly hideous and looks like a parking garage,” wrote Debra Marino. “The original design – which looked like townhouses – is so much more attractive and fitting for downtown.”

Other residents specifically noted that the proposed development will be in the Marlborough Downtown Village Zoning District. They said that the design of the proposed building is at odds with the appearance of that area.

“While I also appreciate modern designs and architecture, I feel like the proposed design will look and feel out of place in that historic area,” wrote Teona Brown. “I wouldn’t mind seeing that same building in another part of town, such as near the Apex center, but it is alarming to think this type of architecture would be approved for an area I associate more with historic preservation.”

“The architecture of this building does not fit in with the city’s aesthetics,” added Mary Anne Scovitz. “I would like to see something that blends in better than this projected eyesore.”

Another issue for many residents was the availability of parking. The proposed development has 25 parking spaces for those 40 residential units, which some residents wrote would worsen a problem that they say is already present.

“Street parking is already in short supply in the downtown area,” wrote Morteza Asgarzadeh. “I hope they would consider providing at least one parking space for each unit.” 

One resident, Robert Preciado, was concerned about the impact the development could have on the character of the historic downtown district. 

“If the City Council keeps approving large scale multi-use condos in its Village District that do not adhere to the guidelines, then what was the 2014 Village District Ordinance for?” wrote Marlborough resident Robert Preciado. “How can we keep a historic district if the history of the city is being removed to the highest bidder?”

The WoHo development is prompting discussion amid an ongoing moratorium on permit applications for multi-family developments.

Mayor Arthur Vigeant first requested that what is effectively a 90-day pause be put in place back in late April. At the time, he cited more than a dozen projects currently permitted or under construction and encouraged the City Council to reevaluate its process of approving proposals once the moratorium lapses next month.

 “I’m looking to get a handle on all complexes, so, as a City Council, you need to start picking the best complexes and what’s best for our city,” Vigeant said at the time.  “You’ll be getting some [applications] that aren’t so advantageous.”

The moratorium does not impact the process of projects who had begun the permit application process prior to April 26.

Marlborough residents voice opposition to WoHo development 
Renderings show original plans for a mixed use development in downtown Marlborough before the plot of land this development would have sat on was sold to Cambridge developers WoHo. (Screenshot/via City of Marlborough)

That includes the WoHo development, which originated as a proposal more than two years ago from developer Marilyn Green. Based around 28 South Bolton St., Green’s five-story project with 36 residential units, ground floor parking and two retail/office spaces received permit approval 

However, Green then sold the property to WoHo.  

WoHo submitted its own application for the project, which locals recently rallied to oppose. 

This issue will be discussed at a City Council Urban Affair Committee meeting June 17.