METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – Aiming to jump-start a revitalization in the French Hill neighborhood, Mayor Arthur Vigeant wants to target two properties as priority development sites.
The mayor is requesting the City Council sign off on submitting an application to the Massachusetts Permit Regulatory Office to designate two French Hill properties – the Fossile lot at 325 Lincoln St. and an old industrial building at 293-305 Lincoln St. – under the state’s Chapter 43D expedited permitting program.
That program allows communities to designate properties for development and expedite any permitting processes to make it easier on businesses trying to come in.
The Urban Affairs Committee will discuss the matter in the coming weeks, said Councilor Joseph Delano, who chairs the Urban Affairs Committee.
The Marlborough Economic Development Corporation has the Fossile property under agreement to purchase. The Johnson family owns the industrial building at 293-305 Lincoln St. Both owners signed off on the application.
“Submitting these locations as 43D sites will allow us to target these areas through a streamlined local permitting process, specifically for economic development with the potential to encourage revitalization at the neighborhood level,” Vigeant wrote in a letter to the City Council.
A variety of locations in Marlborough are already classified as priority development sites, which helps with access to grants – such as the MassWorks program – and incentives, Vigeant wrote in a letter.
There are no specific projects before the city for either property, according to the application.
The Fossile lot has been the subject of a request for proposals process soliciting development plans for a mixed-use concept incorporating new housing units and first-floor retail that leverages the site’s proximity to the Assabet River Rail Trail and can contribute to the future development of the Lincoln Street corridor, according to the application.
The Johnson lot is inside the proposed neighborhood business zoning district meant to foster increased pedestrian and cycling traffic. The city is expected to apply for a 2018 MassWorks infrastructure grant that could unlock potential for a mixed-use project to dovetail with planned zoning changes to create a pedestrian-centered walkable neighborhood.
Reinvigorating downtown and the French Hill neighborhood – which is largely residential with some retail properties – has been a priority of city officials. Marlborough applied for a Community Development Block Grant that would bring improvements to French Hill, such as reconstructing Devens and McEnelly streets and providing loans to homeowners for housing rehab projects that will address safety hazards and allow for emergency repairs. The city is waiting to see if they will receive block grant money.
This article by Jeff Malachowski originally appeared here.