The teardown of properties at 26, 32 and 34 Union St., paves the way for a new independent senior living apartment building that has been winding through Natick’s approval process for about 3 years. Town Meeting voted in the fall of 2020 to allow a zoning change at part of this site, and the proponents have doing the Planning Board and other meetings circuit since then.
The proposed number of rental units for Union Place has bounced around from in the 30s to nearly 50, before settling at the current 40. Eight of those will be deemed affordable under a state formula. The developer has stated an intention to make half of those affordable units for veterans, though that’s based on whether state rules go into effect that will allow that designation.
Any additional affordable housing units are welcomed by the town, which has struggled to keep its subsidized housing inventory over 10%, the state threshold at which communities are protected from unfriendly 40B projects that allow developers leeway on zoning rules.
The 3-story building, which is conveniently located nearby the Natick Community-Senior Center, includes an underground garage, plus some surface-level parking. The overall property amounts to more than 79,000 sq. ft., and the complex is set to include a mix of studio and 1- and 2-bedroom units.
The traffic study for the project naturally estimates no significant impact on roadway congestion, though this development combined with a 30-unit residential and retail project proposed at the corner of Union Street and Rte. 135—plus a new St. Benedict Classical Academy at 89 Union St.—might have something different to say about that. So might the proposed senior living facility at the top of Pond Road, another cut-through between Rte. 135 and Rte. 16 that stands to gain traffic (Penacook Lane, in between the two, could really start feeling the pain). Of course, the closing of the Leonard Morse Hospital emergency room 3 years ago surely has lowered traffic some on Union Street.