These days, an abandoned construction site is usually the result of a cash-strapped developer. But sadly, construction ground to a halt on Laurence Place, a 55-and-older senior community 30 miles west of Boston in Northborough, Mass., when developer John Benedetti of Grist Mill died. Only five of the 30 planned attached townhouse-style condo units were partly completed. About a year later, a new team stepped in and decided that the bucolic site needed to appeal to a broader audience.
“Developers [in general] like building for that older niche since it has little impact on schools, but so many developments of that kind are built [in the vicinity] that there wasn’t the demographic to support it,” says Rob Harrington, a managing partner of Nexum Group, a Framingham, Mass.-based development company.
He and partners at B&B Land Corp., a development firm in nearby Natick, Mass., formed the Fresh Look team and convinced the town of Northborough to lift the 55–and-over age restriction.
“Timing is everything,” says town planner Kathy Joubert. “The planning board had to decide whether to let the site sit vacant and wait for the senior market to return or go with a new plan. The board decided if the developer limited bedrooms per condo to two, it wouldn’t negatively impact schools.”
The team renamed the project Laurence Falls because of the site’s two waterfalls and made the new target audience buyers of any age who would want units with garages, basements, and a location close to town.
Instead of following the original plan for 2,700-square-foot attached units, the redesign includes smaller detached and duplex homes. “We realized the current market wants smaller homes,” says Peter Burke, president of B&B Land Corp. “Doing so also preserved more of the site’s brooks, ponds, and waterfalls.”
The original five units have been completed and are selling for $499,000. The remaining units, ranging between 2,000 and 2,200 square feet, are under construction and will be finished early next year, priced in the low- to mid-$400,000s.