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‘Live, work, play’ concept grows in Marlborough

‘Live, work, play’ concept grows in Marlborough

METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – When Atlantic Management bought the 109-acre former Hewlett Packard campus, there wasn’t much there besides buildings and a parking lot.

But the company saw the property as a perfect fit for a “high-end, amenity-laden, mixed-use development,” according to its website. The Marlborough Hills development is home to GE Healthcare Life Sciences, Quest Diagnostics, the regional offices for Whole Foods along with apartments and a Hilton Garden Inn.

The “live, work, play” concept has been a popular one for real estate developers to place offices, homes, shops and entertainment in the same spot. It’s either completed by one company or multiple property owners working together, according to Paul Matthews, executive director of the 495/MetroWest Partnership, a public-private advocacy and development organization based in Westborough.

“It has been an increasing trend over the last decade, where the idea of providing a mixed use of some level of residential development along with employment and amenities has become a strong interest on the part of companies looking at locations,” Matthews said. “They want to be able to provide their employees with opportunities to enjoy their off time and effectively use their work time.”

Similar concepts have popped up in Burlington, Littleton and Somerville.

Besides Marlborough Hills, the Marlborough Economic Development Corp. promotes the entire city for its live, work, play amenities. The agency received a bronze award from the International Economic Development Council for a three-minute video promoting what the city offers.

“This award creates an opportunity for people across the country and beyond to see our video and literally visualize what Marlborough has to offer to businesses, visitors and future residents,” said Meredith Harris, MEDC’s executive director, in a statement.

Previously, companies created their own isolated campuses.

“This model is beginning to change, with tech firms favoring better integration with the community, being part of a walkable live/work/play environment,” reads a 2017 study by the Urban Land Institute.

Part of the reason for the trend is companies trying to attract a strong workforce and younger workers not wanting to drive long distances to the office.

In a letter to the MEDC, a GE Healthcare official said the company was drawn to the state to open its new U.S. headquarters because of its educated workforce.

“We quickly landed on Marlborough because it is a center for innovation and is within easy commuting distance from a number of desirable residential locations that are attractive to our current and future employees,” wrote Anthony Kotarski, commercial operations executive at GE Healthcare. “Bringing our site to Marlborough gave us the ability to build world-class office, laboratory and manufacturing facilities that would help us attract top talent to the community.”

Matthews called Marlborough Hills a landmark development in the region that works in conjunction with Apex Entertainment Center on Rte. 20.

“They worked in concert with the city of Marlborough on some zoning measures that allowed them to take that one piece of property and turn it into a multi-phase development,” he said.

Atlantic Management sold 23.47 acres to Avalon Bay Communities for the development of 350 high-end, market rate residential units.

“It has really maximized the use of the property to provide opportunities to live and work there,” said Matthews.

This article by Jonathan Phelps originally appeared here.

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