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Marlborough seeks state OK on priority sites

Marlborough seeks state OK on priority sites

Marlborough is seeking state approval to designate two Lincoln Street parcels as priority development sites. Doing so will increase the chances the city will receive grants, such as the MassWorks program, and make it more appealing for new developments to come in.

METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – A proposal to designate two Lincoln Street parcels as priority development sites that officials hope will spur a revitalization in the French Hill neighborhood is now in the state’s hands.

City councilors last week signed off on submitting an application with the Massachusetts Permit Regulatory Office to make two French Hill properties – the Fossile lot at 325 Lincoln St. and an industrial building at 293-305 Lincoln St. – priority development locations under the state’s Chapter 43D expedited permitting program.

“This is intended to help the Lincoln Street area,” City Councilor Joseph Delano said during last week’s City Council meeting.

That program allows communities to designate properties for development and expedite any permitting processes to make it easier on businesses trying to develop those parcels. Receiving approval for priority development sites also increases the chances the city could receive grants, such as from the MassWorks program, and other incentives.

“We see it as an economic development tool,” said Meredith Harris, executive director of the Marlborough Economic Development Corp.

It is unclear when the state will decide on the city’s application.

The 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.

Re-energizing the city’s downtown and French Hill neighborhood has been on city officials’ list of priorities for several years. Marlborough was awarded Community Development Block Grant funds that will bring improvements to French Hill, such as reconstructing Devens and McEnelly streets and offering loans to homeowners for critical housing repairs.

Marlborough officials in 2015 approved a rezoning measure that encourages mixed-use developments in the city center.

Several locations in the city, including the Apex Center land, have been characterized as priority development sites, said Harris.

There are no specific projects before the city for either the Fossile lot or the industrial building, said Harris.

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 city’s application.

The Johnson lot is inside the proposed neighborhood business zoning district meant to foster increased pedestrian and cycling traffic. Marlborough is expected to apply for a 2018 MassWorks infrastructure grant that could unlock potential for a mixed-use project to dovetail with planning zoning changes to create a pedestrian-centered walkable neighborhood.

This article by Jeff Malachowski originally appeared here.

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