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Big changes for west side of the city

Big changes for west side of the city

MAIN STREET JOURNAL – Marlborough’s west side is in the midst of a dramatic change with construction well underway for the planned Apex Center of New England. The forty-plus acre development on the south side of Route 20 will be comprised of eleven buildings totaling 475,000 square feet of business, entertainment and retail space at a price tag estimated to be about $160M.

Perhaps most notable will be the 150,000 square foot recreation/entertainment complex that will offer indoor go-kart racing, laser tag, candlepin and ten pin bowling, a trampoline park, an indoor playground for kids, simulated golf, and an arcade.

Six restaurants will include Friendly’s, Chick-fil-A, Evviva Cucina serving Italian fare, and 110 Grill, which features modern American cuisine. The development will also include Marriott’s Fairfield Inn and Suites, Hyatt Place, a car wash, an office/medical facility, and other retail attractions.

There will be nearly 2,000 on-site parking spaces. Some businesses are expected to open in the spring with the entire complex scheduled to be completed by next fall.

The site for the project was once home to an apple orchard and has been eyed by developers for years. However, City Council approval of a zoning overlay district was necessary in order to allow a project of this scope and magnitude. The vacant land generates about $45M in tax revenue for the city. Once the project is complete, it is expected to generate roughly three times that amount.

While the development will create substantial new tax revenue for the city and offer a variety of new services, the impact on traffic could be substantial. There will be three access/exit points on Route 20, including one at the current traffic signal location by Wendy’s, along with one each at both the west and east ends of the development.

The west access, roughly opposite the entrance to the Best Western Hotel, will offer the closest connection to the Hyatt and the adjacent Friendly’s. The central entrance will provide the best access to the Fairfield Inn and 110 Grill. The east entrance is closest to Chick-fil-A and the entertainment complex. Motorists traveling on westbound Route 20 will need to enter via the traffic signal at the central access.

The current entrance to Bank of America will remain and will serve Evviva Cucina as well, but that entrance is not meant to be used as a general access point to the entire development. There will be no access to or from Glen Street on the eastern border of the development, to assure no traffic impact on that neighborhood.

While the full traffic impact remains an unknown, major improvements to Route 20 are planned to help improve the flow. Earlier this year, the City of Marlborough announced an award of more than $3M in state funds to pay for roadway upgrades.

The $3.05 million MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant will pay for new turn lanes and upgraded signals, in support of the Apex Center.

Commenting on the impact of the development, Mayor Arthur Vigeant said, “The project will not only be great for our residents, but it will also help attract new employers and prospective employees to our city.”

The Apex Center marks the latest major development contributing to the growth of Marlborough’s west side commercial and retail tax base. The wave of progress began when Atlantic Management Corporation purchased the 109-acre former Hewlett Packard campus off Simarano Drive back in 2011. The company subsequently submitted a proposal for a mixed-use development to include apartments, retail stores and a hotel, while renaming the entire parcel, Marlborough Hills.

The following year, Quest Diagnostics committed to a long-term lease to create its northeast regional, state-of the-art, “lab of the future,” nearby at 200 Forest Street.

Completing another major piece of the Marlborough Hills puzzle, Atlantic sold twenty-three acres to Avalon Bay Communities in 2013 for the development of three hundred fifty high-end residential units.

The next major move for Marlborough Hills came in 2014 when Atlantic Management sold 3.67 acres to CSM Development for the construction of a 163-room upscale Hilton Garden Inn.

Most of those developments were not even imaginable five years ago. The resulting new jobs, tax revenue and services has put Marlborough at the forefront as a model for economic development across the state.

Click here for larger view of the Apex Center map.

This article by Jim Ash originally appeared here.