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Marlborough’s Walker Building study nearing completion

Marlborough’s Walker Building study nearing completion

METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – A study to examine future uses for the Walker Building that got underway this summer is slated to be completed in the coming weeks.

Over the summer, the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation tapped Cambridge-based architects SMMA to analyze potential future uses for the Main Street building. Representatives from SMMA are in the process of touring and conducting an extensive review of the building to determine the best potential uses for the property. The study will also include a review of parking in the area, said Meredith Harris, executive director of the MEDC.

Harris anticipates the study will be finished within the next few weeks. Once the study is complete, the findings will be presented to the City Council and a public hearing will likely be scheduled.

In the spring, the City Council signed off on spending $75,000 to hire a firm to examine how to use the downtown property, which currently only houses a handful of offices. More than half of the space inside the 60,000-square-foot building is vacant. The Community Development Authority moved its offices from the Walker Building to the former senior center in December. The Veterans Department recently moved to the new senior center.

MEDC officials and Mayor Arthur Vigeant have stressed that any future use of the Walker Building will be predicated on the building’s exterior remaining unchanged.

The MEDC’s executive committee last year discussed redeveloping the property to help stimulate economic activity in the new “Marlborough Village” zoning district.

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

City officials have said there are few opportunities downtown where such a large property exists that could act as an economic engine.

A downtown staple for decades, the Walker Building has been characterized by city officials as a gem, but also an under-performing asset.

Discussing the issue in the spring, city councilors suggested a handful of new functions for the property, including a community center, housing, a new library, a performing arts center and office space.

This article by Jeff Malachowski originally appeared here.