Natick’s plans for developing the former school site at 5 Auburn St. in South Natick, which have been shrouded in a series of closed-door Select Board executive sessions since the spring, are now more clear.
The town announced on Monday that it has reached an agreement with Metro West Collaborative Development, which plans to build 32 permanently affordable housing units on the dead-end street that sits between the Charles River and Rte. 16. Metro West has worked on developments in other communities such as Medway, Newton, and Norwell.
The Natick units will become available via lottery based on income eligibility with preference given to Natick residents and those who work here. No timeline for project completion or unit availability was mentioned in the town’s announcement.
The Select Board voted 3-2 in March to enter negotiations with the non-profit, which offered $100 for the town-owned property. Metro West said during the request for proposals process that began last year that it expects to get a $600K infusion from the Natick Affordable Housing Trust to help bring the development to fruition.
“The project will repurpose the interior of the former Eliot School while preserving the building’s historic architecture,” Select Board Chair Bruce Evans said in a statement issued by the town.
Those in favor of the plan says it will help meet demand for more affordable housing in town, albeit not near the town’s main public transportation route.
Those opposed, including abutters, fear this project will create traffic, safety, and parking problems, citing already significant backups along Rte. 16 during morning and afternoon commute hours. They favored a plan by Trask, which offered $2M for the property and proposed divvying the land into 3 lots—1 where the existing structure stands that includes 3 units in the main building and 2 in the gym, then 2 of which would house duplexes.
South Natick has been undergoing significant changes between the rise of new private schools and the impending demise of the Charles River dam.
Metro West Collaborative Development will be holding an open house for community members on Aug. 29 from 5:30-7pm at the Community-Senior Center, 117 E. Central St.
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