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HOLBROOK, MA-Joseph R. Mullins Co.’s effort to develop a retail and residential complex on Union Street between the commuter rail station and the center of town received a huge setback when Town Meeting rejected a crucial zoning change.

Calls to the Braintree, MA-based developer were not returned by deadline, but on the proposed project’s website, called Old English Square, a statement from the developer says, “Town Meeting voted 60% in favor of Old English Square, falling short of the 66% vote needed to pass. Thanks to everyone who supported the project. We will issue a statement about the future of the project soon.”

The project would have been the second largest development in Holbrook. The Joseph R. Mullins Co. owns the 80-acre parcel that it purchased from Klass Realty for $1.4 million. The property once served as a dairy farm until it was sold to the Wright family, who built the Wright Bros. Sports Center at 231 Union St. on a portion of their land. The family eventually sold the property to Family Golf, which went bankrupt in 1999. Klass Realty acquired the land from Family Golf and recently sold it to the Mullins.

Plans for the 379,000-sf proposal involve a 36,000-sf retail village that would be on Union Street, a commercial corridor, and the residential village would be about 1,000 feet behind that. The company initially wanted to make the apartments into rental units, but after a number of meetings with the town and local residents they changed the plan to condominiums.

The estimated $40-million project needed the zoning change since the site is currently in a business zone. The company decided not to go for a project under the state’s affordable-housing law–which would have enabled the company to bypass local zoning laws since Holbrook does not yet have the required 10% of affordable housing. Company officials said that was because the parcel’s location near the train station would make the project marketable to commuting professionals.

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