"They are absolutely magnificent," relays Abrams Propertiesprincipal Matthew Abrams, whose firm has a lengthy track record ofrevitalizing aging commercial buildings. Abrams adds that VinCo'snew urbanism approach enhances the allure for prospectiveresidential tenants. "There really is no other mixed-use projectlike Chestnut Green," he says. "Tenants can live in the apartments,work in the offices, walk to the supermarket and day care, and playin 40 acres of recreational fields." A shopping plaza nearcompletion will accommodate a bank, dry cleaner, hair salon, Irishpub, restaurant and Walgreen's pharmacy.

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Monthly rents are being set from $1,200 to $2,500, while 14affordable apartments will be available for tenants earning 80% ofmedian income. Scheduled to open next June, the project willinclude one and two-bedroom units, as well as two-bedroom plus denor loft layouts, ranging from 780 sf to 2,800 sf. "The existingbuildings at Chestnut Green have many unique qualities that allowus to create remarkable space," says Abrams, including certainunits that will feature 20-foot ceilings.

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The developer promises "condominium-quality finishes," includinggranite countertops, stainless steel appliances, tile baths andwalk-in closets. Tenant amenities run from a billiards hall andfitness center to a media room and roof deck. Despite the modernelements, the structures are being restored in accordance withNational Park Service Historic Guidelines, with upgrades to thewindows, exterior trim, slate roofs and repointing of brickwork.The buildings did suffer years of neglect upon closing, but Abramsexpresses confidence that the restoration will yield a desirableenvironment. "It's in surprisingly good shape," says Abrams, whosefirm has tackled similar reclamation challenges in such markets asLowell and Worcester.

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The previous ventures yielded condominiums, as the Foxboroughunits were originally envisioned prior to the market downturn.Abrams and VinCo received local approvals to reconstitute theresidential as apartments, and Abrams expresses confidence thatprospects will be attracted to that use in spite of the weakhousing slump. Besides the quality of the apartments, Abrams notesthat Foxborough is a well-regarded residential community in thedemographically dense southeastern Massachusetts region. "I'mreally excited about it," says Abrams, labeling the venture a"signature project" for his company.

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An affiliated company, Abrams Construction, will handle generalcontractor duties in erecting the Apartments at Chestnut Green,while JK Partners of Philadelphia is the architect. The partnershipis also committed to building 15 town homes for residents aged 55and older, but Abrams says that segment will be undertaken at alater time. VinCo acquired the state hospital in 2005, and sincehas mapped out its diverse master plan that also fomentedconstruction of a new fire and police station across the street.Besides historic tax credits, the $36 million price tag for theoffice and retail portion of Chestnut Green is being funded viaanother construction loan by apartment lender Wells Fargo, whichmade a $21 million commitment to VinCo on those portions.

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