NEEDHAM, MA-The town is looking to encourage and manage growth at its 215-acre business center here between the Charles River and Route 128. The area is home to the New England Business Center, the Highland Avenue Corridor and the Wexford Charles Street Industrial District.

The site comprises a mix of industrial, office and retail uses and yields 12% of all property tax revenue here. The town has requested a number of zoning changes that would allow for more density on the site. The proposed zoning would include three new districts–an office park, a commercial street, and a mixed-use center. The proposed zoning would establish a two-tiered system, with lower densities allowed by right and higher densities allowed by special permit. A town official tells that the town wants to allow for more density in the area. According to the town’s executive summary, the 2.5 million sf of potential new development space here could generate over five million dollars per year in new taxes.

One encouraging sign for this project is the legislation that was just passed that would allow Needham to establish a traffic mitigation fund. Even without the increased density, a town official notes that traffic has always been an issue on Route 128 in this area and the town would like to build an exit here at Kendrick Street.

The traffic mitigation fund, which has to be approved by Town Meeting, would create a dedicated funding source for the traffic improvements. Special permit fees from new development would constitute the fund’s primary source. The proposed development of the area here would generate approximately $6.25 million in special permit fees over a 10-year period.

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