Land cleared for condos

Published 7:56 am Saturday, February 28, 2009

FRANKLIN—Land adjacent to the Meadow Ridge Apartments on North College Drive is being cleared for possible development.

The land that was originally purchased by a group called The Meadows X, LLC and zoned for housing in 2005, has stood untouched for the past three years.

Then, a Suffolk development group called Franklin Summit bought the land in late December.

Now workers can be observed clearing out paths where trees used to stand.

According to Brian Rowe, a spokesman for Franklin Summit, if given approval by the city, the group will begin building a housing development on that land.

The Franklin Summit project calls for 150 family townhomes or condo units, ranging from 11,000 to 1,200 square feet.

“Depending on the weather, we will get started right away and we hope to start selling units by the end of this year,” said Rowe.

Rowe said his group believed in pushing forward with this project despite the dismal real estate market and tough economic climate.

“We believe there is a need for this type of housing in Franklin, and we are willing to take the risks associated with moving this project along,” he said.

Franklin’s Deputy Director of Community Development Amanda Jarratt said, “I know they are very eager to begin.”

According to Rowe, the group has requested a slot on the planning commission’s March 18 meeting agenda.

Jarratt said the price point of the units will target what she called “work force” housing. She said “work force” housing is housing that is usually occupied by residents with salaries comparable to policeman, teachers and firefighters.

“It’s a different product than we’ve seen in Franklin in a while,” said Donald Goodwin, Franklin’s director of community development.

“Realtors have been asking for these types of units for years in this city,” he said.

Mary Lilley, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Franklin, said the project seems to have some potential.

“There is a need for that type of housing in this area,” said Lilley. “I have seen the plans and if it is done to those specifications, I believe it should be a nice development that could sell well, depending on how they price them.”

Rowe said in addition to bringing new affordable housing, the project will also provide area tradesmen with much-needed jobs.

“We definitely plan on pulling from local human resources for this project,” said Rowe. “We will be looking for carpenters, roofers and others with the skills needed to finish this type of project.”

According to Goodwin, this isn’t the first time work was attempted on this land.

The previous landowners had construction plans approved by the city three years ago. But, Goodwin said, the original developers backed out likely because of housing market conditions.

The Franklin Summit group will have to go before the city’s planning commission again before true construction can start, even though the plans are similar to what was previously approved.

Goodwin said that from the time a construction project is approved, it has one year to begin. If no work is completed within a year’s time, the project expires and the contractors must start their paperwork with the city all over again.

Originally, Meadows X met with some opposition from residents living on Sycamore Road and Meadow Lane after residents learned the project had been rezoned for the construction of condos or townhomes.

Jerry Bryant, a resident on Meadow Lane, was one of the people who took the matter up with city officials back then. Bryant said residents against the development were concerned that the project would create too many houses in one small area.

“We were concerned about the added traffic on Armory Drive, the stress on the fire and rescue department and the influx of children in the schools,” Bryant said.

If the development gets approval this time, Bryant said his group was not likely to make much of a fuss.

“We’ve been through this battle and I don’t think we have much recourse since the city has already rezoned the land for those purposes,” he said.