SHREWSBURY, MA-The Worcester Business Development Corp. has proposed building a 500,000-sf office park on the former Allen Farm site. The 60-acre property on South Street and Route 20 was bought by the town for $6 million earlier this year.

This would be the second local project for the WBDC, a private nonprofit group created in the late 1960s by the state legislature to create jobs and expand the tax base in the region. The group developed CenTech Park, a 120-acre industrial park that sits partly in Shrewsbury and partly in Grafton.

David P. Forsberg, president of the WBDC, tells that his firm is meeting with the town next week, emphasizing that they are very comfortable working with the town. “We are used to working here,” he says. He points out that part of their job will be to determine how much of the site is developable. “The wetlands and infrastructure can pose challenges,” he says. Forsberg points out that the proposal involves 500,000 sf of office space, but that figure could go up or down depending upon the condition of the land and the response from the community. “We will evaluate what will most likely be successful,” he says. “We want to help the community. They purchased the land and they are looking for a return down the road.”

Forsberg notes that his corporation is the only entity that responded to the town’s request for proposals to develop the site. He explains that the lack of infrastructure on the farm is probably the main reason for that. “This is going to take a while,” he says. “A private developer can’t have that kind of patience. This is a challenging project but that’s why we were created–to do the projects the market might need help with.”

Forsberg emphasizes that his group will work in partnership with the town, whose development corporation will retain ownership of the land until the WBDC finds developers to purchase the property. The team assembled to work with the WBDC, which will function as project manger for the development, includes Hancock & Associates for the design work, CDW for the environmental work, Beata Group for the engineering work, O’Hara Buthry for the appraisals and Kelleher and Sadowsky for real estate and marketing. Forsberg adds that the Miller Group will provide support.

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