WOBURN — Two prominent residential property managers propose erecting nearly 700 new multi-family dwelling units on either side of the future site of a restored New Boston Street bridge connection, according to recent submissions to local officials.
The site is located near the Wilmington line.
Providing city officials with a more detailed idea of what's being proposed, Fairfield Residential and Cabot, Cabot and Forbes have identified themselves as the lead proponents of the controversial housing projects, which Mayor Scott Galvin and the City Council tried to discourage at the outset of 2020 through a zoning change.
On Wednesday, the city's Commerce Way Corridor Overlay District Concept Plan Review Committee plans to review both proposals during a meeting that begins at 6 p.m. in City Hall's Council Chambers.
According to the meeting agenda, California headquartered Fairfield Residential is the leading petitioner behind a pitch to redevelop the 16-acre New England Resin site at 316 New Boston St. into a three-building apartment complex containing 445 units and structured parking garages.
New England Resins, which distributes chemicals like paints, class, and epoxies, has owned and operated a 100,000 square foot manufacturing business from the New Boston Street parcel in North Woburn. Situated by the old city landfill and Merrimac Street, the 16-acre parcel lies on the dead-end side of New Boston Street, a traffic prone industrial zone which is presently only accessible by traversing residential roadways.
However, those undesirable property characteristics are about to be completely changed by the New Boston Street Bridge project, a $16.4 million undertaking which will connect the New England Resins and neighboring industrial sites with a quick route to Anderson Regional Transportation Center and connections to I-93 by Commerce Way.
Cabot, Cabot and Forbes is listed by city officials as the second developer looking to take advantage of the restored New Boston Street bridge connection, which will reconnect East and North Woburn. Eyeing a target parcel on the other side of the bridge by Anderson Center, the real-estate firm wants to construct 250 multi-family units in a 7-story building on a three-acre sliver of a larger 40-plus acre section of the IndustriPlex site.
As being presented, the Boston-based firm also proposes the inclusion of roughly 5,000 square feet of retail space on the ground-level floor of the complex.
By imposing new restrictions on residential developments within Woburn's Commerce Way Corridor Overlay District (CWCOD), the two housing developments, if ultimately supported, would come close to doubling the total number of dwelling units being erected within Woburn's Commerce Way Corridor Overlay District (CWCOD), where some 800 housing units have been permitted over the past three years.
Back in February of 2017, the city sanctioned the first of those housing projects with the issuance of a special permit for a 300-unit redevelopment of the old Fitzgerald Tile site by the corner of Commerce Way and Atlantic Avenue by the Anderson Regional Transportation Center. Not long afterwards, the Emery Flats proposal, a 200-unit apartment complex that is visible from I-93, was pitched and approved by National Development.
Most recently, the City Council in the summer of 2019 unanimously approved the Woburn Village project, a sprawling mixed-use redevelopment of the Woburn Mall site by the entrance of the CWCOD, where 300 apartment units are being constructed.
At the outset of 2020, Mayor Scott Galvin and other city officials caught wind that a number of large landowners within the CWCOD were exploring redevelopment plans that would pitch housing complexes on either side of the further New Boston Street bridge.
With a number of city leaders already bemoaning the frantic pace of new housing starts, particularly in and around Commerce Way, the mayor urged the aldermen to counteract the building trend by instituting new density controls on future apartment complexes.
The council quickly responded by capping new housing within the CWCOD at 10-units per acre, a substantially different threshold given the overlay's previous 25-to-40 units per acre ceiling.
However, before that zoning amendment passed, two landowners managed to submit preliminary subdivision plans, which sought Planning Board input on proposals to combine and carve-up industrial sites by the New Boston Street bridge.
By introducing those plans, both landowners were able to freeze for eight-months zoning protections on the properties under the old CWCOD rules. In order to extend that zoning shield out to an eight-year term, both petitioners have since introduced formal subdivision plans to the Planning Board, which in June continued public hearings on those petitions until a date uncertain.