City Council gets first look at proposed housing for Lizotte Drive

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City Council gets first look at proposed housing for Lizotte Drive
The building at 130 Lizotte Drive could be converted into housing, if a local developer gets the necessary approvals. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

MARLBOROUGH – The building at 130 Lizotte Drive has stood vacant for almost a decade.

It is currently being gutted to prepare for future use.

If developer David Ferris gets the necessary approvals, including a zoning overlay and special permit, that future use of the building could be housing.

Ferris presented preliminary plans for the site during a City Council public hearing about the zoning overlay on April 22.

Ferris recently purchased the site, which includes the building and 12 acres. He said the property has changed hands three times, and he ended up purchasing the site at auction for about $4 million.

He envisions converting the current building into 75 units and wants to construct two more buildings to house another 105 units.

He emphasized that the proposed new construction would take place at the current parking lot, and it would not disturb the adjacent green space.

“This could really benefit the city,” said Ferris.

He added that converting office space into housing could become a national trend. He said that if something is not done about vacant office space, it could turn into “empty zombies.”

Several abutters voiced their concerns about traffic and environmental impacts.

“The building is out of control,” said Emily Welton, who lives in the nearby Jackson farmhouse. “How many apartments have to be built in Marlborough?”

“You’ve got to do something about traffic,” said Eileen Welton. 

She said it’s hard to drive around the neighborhood, especially during pickup and dropoff at the Advanced Math and Science Academy.

Both the City Council and Ferris emphasized that the public hearing was about the zoning overlay, and that would be only the first step in the process.

Councilor Kathleen Robey said the Planning Board will hold a public hearing about the proposed overlay sometime in June.

The proposal has been sent to the council’s Urban Affairs Committee.

Should the overlay be approved, the zoning at Lizotte Drive would be amended to include housing, self-storage facilities and/or contractors’ yards.

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