An 89-year-old Needham manufacturer called Vita Needle has struck a deal for the long-vacant property at 22 Pleasant St. in South Natick that the town just a few years ago almost bought to use as open space along the Charles River.
A town representative confirmed the deal for the industrial-zoned property, and we’ve reached out to Vita Needle to learn about their plans for the property. Reportedly, the deal is worth more than $3M.
The four-acre site, situated across the street from the historic South Natick dam and next to the Hunnewell baseball fields, includes 42k square feet of office, manufacturing, and warehouse space built in the 1950s. The entrance still bears a sign for a past occupant, Harvard Clinical.
Good news beyond the facility no longer being vacant: the town will continue to have access to the abutting Hunnewell baseball fields, a concern that came up during property negotiations. Those wanting to park in the lot for the three diamonds used by Natick Little League must use the driveway owned by 22 Pleasant St.
Nothing against needles, but…what could have been
Many Natick residents over the past several years advocated for the area to be purchased by the town for use as open space. The idea was that the riverfront spot would be perfect for recreation programs, ecology and conservation efforts, a canoe and kayak launch, and more.
A petition titled “Complete the Parcel. Acquire Open Space. Purchase 22 Pleasant Street!” addressed to town administrators and the Board of Selectmen in 2016 garnered over 500 signatures from residents, urging that the town go through with the purchase.
Although the Town Meeting voted in fall 2017 to authorize the Board of Selectmen to negotiate to purchase 22 Pleasant St., and $3 million-plus was later allocated for the buy, the Town eventually decided not to continue with negotiations citing concerns about site contamination and the possible remediation costs that could come with ownership of the parcel.
According to a MetroWest Daily News story in fall of 2019, then Town Administrator Melissa Malone “argued the town was in a different financial place than when selectmen were authorized to enter into business negotiations with the Knott family in 2015.”
Vita Needle is a domestic manufacturer of stainless steel tubing and fabricated parts. As their name suggests, Vita makes things like sewing needles and those used in hospitals and for medical research. But they also manufacture commercial tubing and pipe, stainless steel wire, and components for the aerospace, medical, industrial, instrumentation, and beverage industries.
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