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WESTBOROUGH, MA-AvalonBay Communities Inc.’s original proposal to build a residential development of 423 rental apartments on a 62-acre tract in Westborough, MA has been scaled back to 280 after negotiations with the town. Among the concerns the town had were the impact such a large development would have on its education system and local transportation services. “The process in Westborough was very reasonable,” says Scott Dale, senior development director for Avalon Bay. “We scale back when we think it is appropriate. This was a win-win situation.”

The board of appeals granted approval for the development but the state environmental review process must be completed. Dale says the company hopes to be in the ground by spring 2001. Included in the negotiations were lower sewer and water fees for the development and an agreement that 25% of the apartments would be affordable housing.

“There is a backlash in local communities against high-density housing,” notes Ross J. Moore, vice president and national director of research for Colliers International. “There is a scarcity of land and people are careful about what gets built and where. Smaller projects accomplish that.”

Virginia-based AvalonBay, which has been acquiring and building multifamily products in the Bay State since 1992, currently has similar residential developments either completed or proposed in Weymouth, Peabody, Marlborough and Hull. Amenities in Westborough will include a fully developed clubhouse, pool, spa, indoor basketball court, fitness center and a resident lounge. Prices will be approximately $1.40 per sf per month. Nearly 14 acres will be held in a conservation easement.

Talk of an upcoming recession does not frighten Dale, who says that the difficulty his company has is in meeting demand. “We are in a market niche that is very underserved. Demand has consistently outpaced supply.”

Moore agrees. “This development is a drop in the bucket. We have a real housing crisis and it’s not going to go away, Even with a potential recession we are so far from an oversupply [here]. People still need places to live.”

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