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MILTON, MA-When the H.P. Hood Warehouse burned down here nearly a year and a half ago, no one in this largely residential town about 20 miles outside of Boston was happy. Since then, town planners have come to realize that the event is one of the few chances they would get to revitalize this old industrial area that sits on the Neponset river.

“When the ice cream warehouse burned down, it provided us with an opportunity to put something golden there,” Paul Kanter, Milton’s town engineer and planning director, tells GlobeSt.com. This area abuts Dorchester where many of the old mills have been converted into upscale condominiums. Planners in this town want more for their lower mills area.

The town is looking to develop a mixed-use project on this site with restaurants, shops, housing and perhaps a riverfront park. In addition to putting new life into the area, town planners also want to increase the tax revenue in the community. “The plan could triple the amount of taxes we get from this area,” Kanter notes.

To that end, the town recently, and overwhelmingly, approved the town’s first-ever mixed-use zoning, which applies to the two-and-a-half acre Hood property as well as to the adjacent three-acre former Humboldt Moving and Storage property. The new zoning laws require prospective developers to apply for a special permit from the town’s planning board. If a developer agrees to add open space, additional parking or access to the waterfront in the plans, the number of housing units allowed will be increased.

According to Alexander Whiteside, chairman of Milton’s planning board, “Hood has expressed interest in redeveloping its property and are talking about a mixed-use project.” Whiteside adds that a number of groups have looked at developing housing at the former storage site, which was acquired by Extra Space Warehouse, but a 19th century building on the property precluded that option.

Developers wanted to raze the building but Extra Space’s use of the building as a warehouse will preserve the building. The company is looking at developing the area around the building in to a mixed-use project. “They are plugged into real estate development,” notes Whiteside.

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