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Committee OKs Walker Building study

METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – With about half of the space inside the Walker Building unused, the Operations and Oversight Committee is recommending a $75,000 study to examine future uses for the property.

A fixture on Main Street for decades, the Walker Building only houses a handful of offices and city departments, including Veterans Services and the Retirement Board. In December, the Community Development Authority moved its offices from the Walker Building to the former senior center.

The Marlborough Economic Development Corporation’s executive committee last year discussed redeveloping the building to stimulate economic activity in the new “Marlborough Village” zoning district.

In late 2014, the City Council approved new downtown rezoning aimed at spurring redevelopment to bring hotels, brewpubs, bed and breakfasts, music recording studios and a performing arts center.

Tim Cummings, MEDC executive director, said the feasibility study would determine the building’s best use. A review of parking would also be part of the study. Cummings would report the results to full council. The city could then submit a request for proposals to developers.

On Tuesday, councilors suggested new functions, including a community center, housing, a new library, a performing arts center and office space.

“Nothing would be off the table,” said Cummings.

The process, which will include public comment, is expected to take several months.

The money for the study would come from the economic development fund.
Cummings and Mayor Arthur Vigeant stressed that any future use will be predicated upon the building’s exterior not being altered.

“What we’re looking to do is all internal,” said Cummings.

City Council President Ed Clancy suggested councilors tour the building with Cummings and Public Works officials in the coming weeks.

“A walkthrough would be great,” said Operations and Oversight Committee member Donald Landers.

Committee members and councilors in attendance Tuesday agreed the building is a gem, but described it as an underperforming asset. Councilors stressed they do not want to sell the building.

“It’s an asset to the city,” said Landers. “It’s a beautiful building. This building has so much potential.”

The City Council is expected to vote on the committee’s recommendation to appropriate funding for the study at an upcoming meeting.

This article by Jeff Malachowski originally appeared here.