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FOXBOROUGH, MA-Funded by a $7.6 million loan from Wells Fargo Bank, Abrams Properties Inc. and VinCo Properties have begun construction on a 55-unit apartment project here at the former Foxborough State Hospital. The Apartments at Chestnut Green are part of a multi-faceted plan by VinCo to convert the 136-acre site into a diverse complex of leisure, office and retail space under the Chestnut Green moniker. The upscale apartments will be in a quadrant of intertwined buildings sporting Gothic features and ornate cupolas.

“They are absolutely magnificent,” relays Abrams Properties principal Matthew Abrams, whose firm has a lengthy track record of revitalizing aging commercial buildings. Abrams adds that VinCo’s new urbanism approach enhances the allure for prospective residential tenants. “There really is no other mixed-use project like Chestnut Green,” he says. “Tenants can live in the apartments, work in the offices, walk to the supermarket and day care, and play in 40 acres of recreational fields.” A shopping plaza near completion will accommodate a bank, dry cleaner, hair salon, Irish pub, restaurant and Walgreen’s pharmacy.

Monthly rents are being set from $1,200 to $2,500, while 14 affordable apartments will be available for tenants earning 80% of median income. Scheduled to open next June, the project will include one and two-bedroom units, as well as two-bedroom plus den or loft layouts, ranging from 780 sf to 2,800 sf. “The existing buildings at Chestnut Green have many unique qualities that allow us to create remarkable space,” says Abrams, including certain units that will feature 20-foot ceilings.

The developer promises “condominium-quality finishes,” including granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, tile baths and walk-in closets. Tenant amenities run from a billiards hall and fitness center to a media room and roof deck. Despite the modern elements, the structures are being restored in accordance with National Park Service Historic Guidelines, with upgrades to the windows, exterior trim, slate roofs and repointing of brickwork. The buildings did suffer years of neglect upon closing, but Abrams expresses confidence that the restoration will yield a desirable environment. “It’s in surprisingly good shape,” says Abrams, whose firm has tackled similar reclamation challenges in such markets as Lowell and Worcester.

The previous ventures yielded condominiums, as the Foxborough units were originally envisioned prior to the market downturn. Abrams and VinCo received local approvals to reconstitute the residential as apartments, and Abrams expresses confidence that prospects will be attracted to that use in spite of the weak housing slump. Besides the quality of the apartments, Abrams notes that Foxborough is a well-regarded residential community in the demographically dense southeastern Massachusetts region. “I’m really excited about it,” says Abrams, labeling the venture a “signature project” for his company.

An affiliated company, Abrams Construction, will handle general contractor duties in erecting the Apartments at Chestnut Green, while JK Partners of Philadelphia is the architect. The partnership is also committed to building 15 town homes for residents aged 55 and older, but Abrams says that segment will be undertaken at a later time. VinCo acquired the state hospital in 2005, and since has mapped out its diverse master plan that also fomented construction of a new fire and police station across the street. Besides historic tax credits, the $36 million price tag for the office and retail portion of Chestnut Green is being funded via another construction loan by apartment lender Wells Fargo, which made a $21 million commitment to VinCo on those portions.

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