Questions from the Public

This section contains answers to questions from community members concerning the Old English Square development. Click here to submit your own question.

Q: Do you know of any stores that are going to be included in the strip mall?
A: We're currently in discussion with various banks, neighborhood-support retail stores, and office tenants to be located in the Retail Village development.

Q: Will any of the residential units be one level condo units, with 2 bedrooms? Will any of the units be handicapped accessible?
A: The residential portion of the development will consist of 80 new condominium residential units for fifty-five years of age or older seniors in 2 three-story multiple unit buildings, 65 new condominium residential units in 65 two-story townhouses and 54 new condominium residential units in 9 six-unit three-story walk-up buildings, with 200 parking spaces in 1 two-story parking garage and 200 surface parking spaces.

The condos will have a mixture of 1 and 2 bedrooms units. All buildings will be handicapped accessible.

Q: What are the residential housing plans and what is the time frame for this part 
of the project?

A: The plans for the residential village are pretty much the same; approximately 245 units in five three story buildings. But the current plan is to pass the retail village first and then one or two of the residential buildings at the following Town Meeting.

Q: What is going to happen to the Wright Brothers' bowling alley? It's very important because it's the only place in town for young people to go.
A: The owners of the bowling alley business have a lease for their building that runs at least until 2008. So they should certainly be around until then. In the meantime, we feel that the bowling alley is very compatible with what we have planned for the site.

Q: I am interested in Your 55 and over housing, I would appreciate it if you could send more information when you get some, such as cost, size, is it for sure condominiums will be built or maybe single homes? Right now I live in Avon and would love to stay in this area if I can, my family also lives here in town.
A: At this time we are planning to build condominiums but the project is still under public discussion. We will add you to our mailing list and keep you informed as the project moves forward. Thank you for your inquiry.

Q: Will there be any new retail stores or chain restaurants added to this
complex? What will this do to traffic on an already busy road?

A: There are plans for two 4,000 square foot retail stores along with several smaller stores. No chain restaurants are planned at this time. Admittedly, the retail stores will add some traffic to Union Street. However, it will be much less than the alternative uses for the site. Zoned business commercial, the OES site could support a small supermarket, a strip mall, and possible a warehouse operation. Each would produce far more traffic than our proposal. In terms of specifics, a traffic study has been commissioned to evaluate the impacts of the development. Once it is complete it will be posted online.

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Q: What kind of stores will be put in your "complex?"
A: The actual stores will depend on which companies like our location and are looking for space, but we expect tenants such as the following: Video rental stores, bank branches, local restaurants, salons, dry cleaners, convenience stores, boutique clothing stores, coffee shops, etc.

Q: Are the apartments going to be rentals, or are there going to be condos
available for purchase? When do you expect to begin accepting applications
for residences (to buy or rent?) Do you have any idea what the cost range
is expected to be?

A: Current plans are for condos in the residential village. Under that scenario all units would be condos. If the project's rezoning passes at Town Meeting, construction could be complete within 24-36 months. Applications would begin six months or so before completion.

Prices are projected as follows: $150,000-$250,000 (condo).

Q: When is ground breaking?
A: Could be as early as spring 2004, but first the project needs to pass a vote for rezoning at Town Meeting in May.

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Q: What is expected length of time for construction?
A: 24 Months

Q: What is the price range?
A: $150,000-$250,000 (condo)

Q: What are the traffic considerations?
A: This project will create some additional traffic, but far less than if the site is developed as a strip mall, supermarket, etc.

Q: Will Union Street be widened to handle more traffic than current situation?
A: We support the addition of a turning lane, but road widening will depend upon the Town and whether or not it wants to change Union Street.

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Q: How is this going to affect the taxes in the town of Holbrook?
A: Old English Square will send an estimated $500,000 in taxes to the Town's budget after subtracting all school and municipal costs. See the Fiscal Impact Report for more information. The annual tax money, in addition to permitting fees, should ease pressure on the Town's budget and allow for additional spending or tax cuts/freezes.

Q: What about the fact that this development is located next to the Baird &
McGuire site? I can't see any good in putting housing next to a highly polluted site?

A: The Baird McGuire superfund site is safely across the Cochato River from the proposed Old English Square development. Ground water is being drawn away from the proposed project, ensuring that it won't be contaminated by Baird McGuire in the future.

Note: The Holbrook Baird McGuire Task Force meets regularly and receives updates on the remediation project from the EPA. The Task Force also has maps and information on the size and concentration of contamination plumes at the site.

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Q: Do you think that people will mind living so close to a former superfund site? Is it your responsibility to inform anyone that may want to reside there about this issue? I know that I would not want my family living near that site no matter how safe they claim that it is. Why would you people possibly want to put others health at risk? Think of the children living so close to a toxic waste dump and try and convince me that it is of no concern to anyone. A response is mandatory.
A: Fortunately, Old English Square is not next to Baird McGuire. Our project is safely buffered from Baird McGuire by the Cochato River and additional lands to the west between the river and the superfund site.

Old English Square is a safe place to live along with the rest of Union Street. No OES resident's health will be at risk. While it is not our responsibility to inform people about Baird McGuire, the site has such public awareness that we are sure anyone who is worried about B&M can make the decision to live elsewhere if they choose.

Note: The Holbrook Baird McGuire Task Force meets regularly and receives updates on the remediation project from the EPA. The Task Force also has maps and information on the size and concentration of contamination plumes at the site.

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Q: Will the residential buildings be apartments or condominiums?
A: All of the units in the Residential Village will be condominiums.

Q: I am happy to hear that the project is taking care to preserve green space and provide bike paths. I am wondering if the architects involved are making efforts to employ sustainable design (i.e. maximizing passive solar heating, etc.), and any other forward looking design techniques and technologies, in the design of the various buildings proposed. Along the same lines, what are the proposed structures to be built of, primarily masonry or wood? It is my hope that the designers will make a significant effort to bring this project to fruition to the greatest advantage of this community. Thank you.
A: Thank you for your comments. While we have not created our architectural drawings yet, the architects will be building to the latest energy codes regarding energy efficiency, etc. All residential units will have individual, self contained HVAC units, which encourage energy conservation through complete submetering. Plus, all buildings will be well insulated for maximum efficiency.

The buildings in the Residential Village will be primarily wood. The Retail Village will be a combination of red brick and wood construction. It is our policy to build with 100% natural materials whenever practical, as opposed to vinyl, cementitious siding, etc.

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Q: How much will the rent be for your office areas?
A: Actual rents will depend on market conditions, but we expect rents from $8 per foot to $15 per foot, depending on the size, visibility, and level of finish for each office unit.

Q: Will the apartments accept small pets such as cats or small dogs? If so
will there be any additional fees?

A: At this time we are planning to build condos in the Residential Village. They will most likely allow pets with a reasonable size limitation.

Q: Do you have a plan that shows your proposal overlaying the existing site?
I mean just like an outline of the building locations? I am trying to figure out the meadow location. Is the meadow the area on the back side of the hill behind the old driving range? Will that hill be removed as part of your work?

A: Yes, we have a plan that shows an overlay. The meadow is visible right behind the Retail Village. The Residential Village will be built behind the hill. Most of the hill will probably have to be lowered, but we plan to preserve the tree line if at all possible.

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Q: Why more housing? Holbrook needs tax revenue, without the associated costs
this development will bring. How about developing this land as a golf course?

I am not opposed to developing the land, but Holbrook is tucked in between Braintree (which has route 3) and Avon (that has rt 24). We already have the highest per capita video, dry cleaning, and sub places in the state. We need something that will not tap our resources, for example. Water, sewer, police, fire and school.

The projected income you talk about must also be based on the fact that the retail stores will make it. Holbrook is (as I stated above) not near any main routes. People cut through Holbrook on the way home, not to stop and shop. I would hope that the land could be used to develop something like a golf course, that would truly help the towns bottom line. This is how I feel now, this could change once I get more information from you. Thanks...
A: We feel that Holbrook's future is as a quality residential community. Our parcel was for sale as industrial land for some time with no takers. While Family Golf tried to do a Driving Range/Golf Operation, they failed to make it work and in the end we bought the land for half of what they paid. Unfortunately, the land is too small for a real golf course.

Manufacturing is steadily moving out of the northeast in general, and the industrial land users who are around want land that is close to highways. At the same time, housing prices in Holbrook have been steadily rising. That's why we propose more housing. Condominiums like ours actually return most of their tax dollars to the Town after paying all associated costs. That's because like Canterbury Crossing, with only 3 elementary students, condos don't attract families with kids. Those families prefer to buy a single family home once their children are in school.

As for other resources, the DPW has told us that there is adequate water and sewer for our project. That's because we are building in a developed area, as opposed to a sprawling new subdivision. Police and Fire will have more calls, to be sure, but no great amount more than they do now. All in all, our Fiscal Study shows $500,000 going to the bottom line of the Town's budget every year, after all costs. Many Town officials responsible for Town resources actively support our project because they know that this new revenue is real and will help the budget.

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Q: Will you support a change in your zoning article that adds a buffer zone between the new district and all residential zones? This will prevent a connection to Ramble Wood. As part of a remediation agreement, will you agree to construct the soccer field?
A: There is no way a connection from Old English Square to Ramblewood is possible due to a large wetland between the two. So we don't feel it is necessary. If you have additional concerns, I ask that you come to the Planning Board if our article passes. We could then demonstrate in public that there won't be a problem.

About the soccer field, we have agreed to pay for it. We did so to help make sure it gets built.

Q: Are these units one level and are they condo's or rental's. If they are condo's will they be owner occupied only?
A: The buildings in the residential village will be between 1 and 4 stories depending on what happens at the Planning Board. They will be 100% condos, all market rate. They won't be specified as owner occupied. We feel that is bad for the buyers. If someone buys one and they aren't ready to move in for a months, they should be able to rent it for a while. Or they should be able to rent it to a child, niece/nephew, etc. That's my only concern. Sometime people worry about lots of rentals, but I think you have to assume that after a while once things settle down, it will look just like Canterbury which is mostly owner occupied of not 100% so.

Comment: For whatever it's worth, I'd like to comment that I think your proposed project sounds great. I grew up in Holbrook - went to local schools from K - 12, and currently reside in Randolph. I would consider moving back to Holbrook to have upscale housing like Old English Square. My one complaint: PLEASE persuade the town to let you build some 3-bedroom townhouses. People with children, like me, deserve a place to live, just like other folks. We can't fit into a 2-bedroom, and I'm so tired of seeing new developments proposed for over-55, singles, and couples. I understand the reasons, but I'd be willing to pay more taxes to support the school system. Good luck with your project. If you build 3 bedrooms, then I'd be happy to be kept posted on the project progress.

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Click here to read frequently asked questions about the project.