WOBURN - The City Council last night was set to begin special permit deliberations over proposals to construct elderly housing and other multi-family residences at the former Kraft Foods site by Montvale Avenue and the Stoneham line.
Back in 2018, as part of a larger rezoning initiative launched in the wake of the Atlantic Gelatin plant closure two years earlier, the City Council granted preliminary approval to a master plan for the Vale Boston, a massive plug-and-play development proposed by Boston-based Leggat McCall.
The council, which has over the past month gotten back to in-person gatherings at City Hall, hosted this week's meeting in a virtual setting. Residents who wanted to participate in the public hearings could through video-conferencing service provider Zoom.
Tonight's public hearings will revolve around the residential components of that enormous 1.8 million-plus square foot redevelopment, which in later phases will also reportedly include a boutique hotel, 800,000 square feet of high-end office and R&D laboratory space, and various retail storefronts.
Listed as second on the City Council's public hearing agenda is a special permit application from LCS Woburn, LLC, which proposes to erect a 103-hit congregate elderly housing complex and a 120-unit extended care facility.
Despite being the first-entity to ever take advantage of Woburn's Technology and Business Overlay District (TBOD), a set of special zoning rules hand-tailored by city officials to facilitate the Vale Boston plans, the senior housing manager is seeking to reduce its parking burden from 281 to 193 parking spaces. The petition also includes several other TBOD waiver requests.
Considered one of the nation's largest elderly housing management firms, LCS is an Iowa-based corporation that is asking to break up the long-term care facility into a traditional 84-bed assisted living facility with an attached 36-bed memory or Alzheimer's care ward.
As with both of the Vale's planned housing components, the senior complex will be situated towards the Winchester side of the larger 60-plus acre site, which will be accessed via a main driveway off of Hill Street by Montvale Avenue's McDonald's Restaurant.
The second public hearing relates to a separate petition from Westborough-based Pulte Homes of New England, which has been selected by Leggat McCall to build out and manage a market-rate townhouse and apartment developments by the senior living complex.
A subsidiary of Fortune 500 firm Pulte Group Inc., the housing developer is specifically looking for council approval of plans to build 95 townhouses and 122 garden-style apartments.
As proposed, the garden-style apartments will be housed in three multi-story buildings and at least 30 of the units will be slated as affordable as defined by the state's Chapter 40B regulations. The townhouse units will be clustered around the rear residential side of the property.
Like LCS, Pulte Group officials will also seek several TBOD waivers related to fencing, retaining wall design, and dimensional driveway specifications.
Comprising some 60-acres of land that runs along I-93 by sections of Winchester, Stoneham, the approximate century-old Kraft Foods site off of Montvale Avenue harkens back to Woburn's heydey as one of the region's industrial and manufacturing powerhouses.
City officials say the redevelopment, which should attract some of the modern era's biggest high-tech firm, will preserve Woburn's status as a regional jobs center.
Already luring Partners Healthcare to the proposed office space, where the state's largest medical network intends to operate a new outpatient treatment center, Leggat McCall is boasting the undertaking will completely transform the gateway into East Woburn.
According to those marketing "The Vale Boston", the project should prove a highly-desirable location given the site's proximity to Boston, two major highways, and a major public transportation hub in Woburn's Anderson Regional Transportation Center.
"The Vale will host today’s innovators in a life-and work-enhancing environment only minutes from Boston, offering Class A office, lab, GMP manufacturing, retail and a boutique hotel. Buildings can be customized and connected to accommodate 150,000 – 800,000 [square feet]," marketing materials for the old Kraft Foods site read.
"Leggat McCall Properties is transforming The Vale to create a vibrant business campus that meets the needs of today’s innovative work force. It’s a place that is surrounded by renowned retail and restaurants; a place for tenants and visitors to work, play, stay – and grow," the Boston developer and real-estate management firm adds.
Leggat McCall has long advised city officials that the development would be built in phases that began with the construction of residences, which are in the highest demand.