FRAMINGHAM – Town Meeting members on Tuesday night approved two re-development projects for downtown Framingham that would bring more than 450 apartments to the area, and give the two developers $8.7 million in tax breaks.
Leadership in the Town of Framingham have been pushing for zoning changes to downtown and transit-oriented developments to spur growth. These were the first two proposals for the area, since Town Meeting approved a zoning change in 2015, that allowed for for multi-story and multi-use developments in downtown Framingham.
“If we do not act now,” said Framingham Town Manager Bob Halpin Tuesday night. “What else can we expect with these two vacant parcels?”
Selectmen voted unanimously to support the two projects. There has been no new construction in downtown Framingham since 1980.
One development is for 270 multi-family apartments at 266 Waverly Street. It would include 22 studios, 101 1-bedroom, 120 2-bedroom, and 27 3-bedroom apartments. Twenty of the apartments would be affordable the rest would be at market rate. The tax break would be for 15 years. The estimated investment in downtown would be about $60 million.
In August the Framingham Planning Board gave approval to Mill Creek Residential which plans to build the 270-unit apartment complex on Waverly Street, at the former Haley Davidson motorcycle site, under the name Modera Framingham. The developer built an apartment complex in Natick under the name Moderna. There would be a two-level parking garage, with 400 spaces, under the apartment complex.
This project passed 86-22-1 by Framingham Town Meeting.
Developer Wood Partners, now will go before the Framingham Planning Board with its proposal for about 200 apartment, retails apace and parking within walking distance of the commuter rail station. The project is expected to get the green light in about 90 days.
Wood Partners is proposing 197 apartments plus retail space at 75 Concord Street. It would include 126 1-bedroom, 66 2-bedroom, and five 3-bedroom apartments. Twenty-seven of the apartments would be affordable, with the rest at market rate. The tax break would be for 7-8 years. The estimated investment in downtown would be $73 million.
This project passed by a vote of 89-16-1 by Framingham Town Meeting.
“It’s time for a change people,” said Framingham Town Meeting member Phil Ottaviani, who said Framingham missed an opportunity when it let Herb Chambers walk away from a $10 million deal in downtown Framingham recently.
“Apartments are not a bad thing,” said Ottaviani. “Downtown Framingham has one shot left. … We need a reason to put businesses in downtown. … It might not be perfect, but this is our chance.”
Town Meeting member Judy Grove of Precinct 15 urged Town Meeting members to vote no on the apartment complexes and tax breaks. She said the town is already collecting tax revenue on the properties of $82,000 and under the plan would only get about $40,000.
“We need to do something different,” said Precinct 1 Town Meeting Member Kathy Vassar.
“It’s not in anyone’s best interest to have a downtown that continues to be a blighted area.”
Precinct 10 Town Meeting Member Bill McCarthy also urged his fellow Town Meeting member to vote no.
“This is going to be a revenue generator. In my opinion, it will cost the town’s tens of millions.” He said the schools are already overcrowded and these apartments would add more than 65 kids to the schools.
Town Meeting member Harold Geller, speaking for the Ways & Means Committee said that only two communities in the Commonwealth – Easton and Quincy – had given tax breaks for housing developments. He said Framingham would be a “trailblazer” if it voted yes and said a majority of his Committee 7-4 felt the proposal were “worth a try to rejuvenate” downtown.
Town Meeting member Ned Price of Precinct 17, where one of the developments would be located, was against the tax breaks.
He said tax incentives are supposed to bring jobs, and these projects bring apartments and more children to the Framingham schools, at an estimate cost of $1 million a year. He said the projects would also bring traffic to the Beaver Street and Route 135 intersection which is already crowded. And said beauty is in the eye of the beholder and he doesn’t think a 4 or 5-story apartment complex is beautiful.
Precinct 14 Town Meeting member Jim Rizzoli asked “If this was going in on the north side of town how many people would be in favor of it?”
He said he was tired of dumping everything on the south side of town. He said these additional apartments are going to bring nothing but traffic jams to downtown.