Saturday, May 14, 2011

Development in Nobscot Signals a New Era

After years of decline, this spring signals the beginning of a new era in Framingham's village of Nobscot. This represents a ray of hope for the residents, business owners, and elected officials who formed the advocacy group Nobscot Neighbors, which now has nearly 300 members, over two years ago.

A lot of the criticism, and rightly so, has focused on the long-term vacancies and condition of the Nobscot Shopping Center on Water Street, the largest commercial property in the village. While it's easy to get overfocused on such a visible problem, it's instructional to look beyond it at the other positive developments in the immediate area.

Anyone driving through the intersection of Edgell Road and Water Street/Edmands Road sees that ground has been broken at the former Mobil gas station at 900 Edgell Road, where a new TD Bank branch will be completed by the fall. This new development will provide a strong anchor presence to one of the four key corners of the village crossroads.

Across Edgell Road at the former Redline Diner/Riley's Roast Beef site, the parking lot has just been repaved and interior building renovations are underway. A new restaurant operator will be re-opening this long-standing Nobscot dining spot soon.

At the Nobscot Village Plaza on Edgell Road, a new building facade has been constructed, from Datti's liquor store around to the side where Nobscot's Cafe` and other businesses are located, with new, improved signage on the way. There is also a new business, The All Natural Face, a vegan makeup store, located in this plaza.

Across Edgell Road at the former Jiffy Lube location, a new sign indicates the owner is now open to not just leasing the property, but also offering a lease to buy option and financing. This makes the property much more attractive to prospective businesses.

Meanwhile, at 49 Edmands Road, just a few hundred feet back from the crossroads at Edgell Road, Shillman House, a 150-unit senior independent living community, is scheduled to open in June. While it has been a controversial project to many Nobscot residents, the infusion of several hundred new residents within walking distance of the local shops represents an opportunity for village businesses to gain many new customers.

At the corner of Edgell Road and Water Street, the Nobscot Chapel building is now in the process of being taken by the town for non-payment of water and sewer bills. While unfortunate, once this matter works it way through the courts, the town would then be able to sell the property and have the site put back into active use.

And while anyone living or working in the area knows that the Water Street Roadway Reconstruction Project has been inconvenient at times, it will bring significant benefit to Nobscot. Its primary purpose, to replace and upgrade the existing water and sewer lines, means that Nobscot will have the infrastructure capacity to properly support not just present use, but future development.

It also relocated the pipes from beneath the parking lot of the shopping center, which is private property, onto the public roadway, which opens the shopping center to possible redevelopment opportunities as well. In addition, the shopping center benefits from a partially resurfaced parking lot, and the village has a brand-new roadway and sidewalks.

And finally, the proposed construction of a new branch of the Framingham Public Library in Nobscot has the potential to be transformational for the village. While there are many more hurdles to be overcome before this project would become a reality, many important steps have already been completed. This includes selection of a site on Water Street adjacent to the shopping center, and applying for a state grant that would provide half of the construction funding.

Nobscot definitely has far to go to reach the level of its heyday decades ago. And its future may not closely resemble its past in some ways. Yet with more development and renovation underway than we've seen in many years, however, it's clear that better days for this Framingham village are on the way.

13 comments:

Nicole said...

Great news to hear about all the happenings in the area! Any idea what sort of resturant is opening in the Riley's location???

Thanks for all the updates!

the Bald Guy said...

Excellent to hear we are progressing. If anyone knows of anyone looking for some nice commercial space in Nobscot we have some available in the Nobscot Professional Building with on site owners who keep it in tip top shape.
Tim Daly

denise said...

This is a great post and definitely promising. But what IS the problem with the old supermarket? Is there any movement on that?

The Hamster said...

The is no problem per se with the shopping center, as far as the ability for it to be leased. While the town and the owner have been having conversations about its future, the owner is free to do, or not do, what they want with the property, as long as the taxes are paid and no bylaws or other regulations are violated. Here's hoping that with all the other activity in the village, the shopping center owner will be encouraged to bring it up to date and lease it, redevelop the site, or sell it.

Just one of the Village People said...

"the owner is free to do, or not do, what they want with the property, as long as the taxes are paid and no bylaws or other regulations are violated."
The Hamster

While the owners can choose to leave the property vacant so long as they pay taxes, they are in violation of the Town Nuisance bylaw by not maintaining the property and allowing blight. The Town has the resources in place to enforce the bylaw with substantial fines but apparently has chosen not to do so.

Since Selectman Laurie Lee is a Nobscot resident perhaps she can find out from the Building Commissioner why the bylaw is not being enforced against the property owners.

The Hamster said...

My understanding is that the property is not in violation of the current blight bylaw. Whether the bylaw should be changed is perhaps another question.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see td bank being built but that will only create a vacancy at nobscot plaza.

The Hamster said...

True, but I think it's a pretty good trade-off - one empty storefront for a brand-new building on a key land parcel in the village.

Curious Party said...

I have heard that the Nobscot property has some sort of contamination asterisk on the property and if developers want to rebuild they must clean the grounds properly first...any truth to this or just rumors?

Anonymous said...

I've heard Rumours of Rotisserie Roast Beef at Riley's from confidential sources : )

The Hamster said...

There was allegedly some contamination from a former dry cleaner in the plaza but it has been cleaned up and is monitored regularly, and has shown no further problems. So this should not be an issue for the property.

Just one of the Village People. said...

Hampster the following is a link to the Nuisance bylaw

http://www.framinghamma.gov/DocumentView.aspx?DID=818

I think that there is enough in the bylaw that would allow the Town to force the owner to at least repave the parking lot and clean up the signage to make the area look a bit less dilapidated. The other key issue in the bylaw is to ensure property values are maintained. The Plaza certainly does not do that.

Lmacleod said...

I grew up in North Framingham and remember when Nobscot Shopping Center was a vital part of the community. I have lived directly in Nobscot for the last five years and commute through it every work day. It saddens me to see the Center in such a state. The last several years have been downright painful because of the water and sewer construction, but as I watched the new Schilling House going up, I rationalized that there was no way our town would allow such a large development to be erected without making sure updating the Center was part of the overall plan. Reading this, it appears I was very mistaken. This leaves me extremely disappointed. The Center should have an anchor. It should have shops like those we frequent right down the road at the Sudbury shopping area. The town should have some recourse with the Center's owner and, as residents of Nobscot, we all deserve a village center that we can be proud of not feel helpless and sad about.