BY BILL LaFORME
Published in the December 22, 2016 edition
NORTH READING – Selectmen will begin the new year by taking a look at the handful of proposals that have been received for redevelopment of the 34+ acre Berry Property on Lowell Road.
At Monday night’s meeting, Selectman Michael Prisco reported to fellow board members that four companies have responded to a town request for proposals with five different ideas. Prisco is the selectmen’s liaison to the town’s Economic Development Committee, which has been reviewing the proposals.
Selectmen meet next on Tuesday, Jan. 3 and that may include a joint meeting with the town’s Community Planning Commission on the proposals.
According to Prisco, the following proposals were received for the property, where the state’s John T. Berry Rehabilitation Center, a mental health facility, operated until the mid-1990s:
• Symes Associates, a Beverly company, has offered the town $5 million to build 140 market rate housing units on the Berry Property.
• Garden Homes has offered $14.4 million to build 480 market rate housing units.
• ForeKicks, a Taunton company, has proposed buying the property for $2.5 million to construct an indoor/outdoor sports complex there.
• And finally, Pulte Homes of Reading has offered two proposals. One would acquire the land for $18.2 million with an eye on constructing 450 Smart Growth homes under the state’s Chapter 40R program, with about 20 percent affordable housing. The other proposal from Pulte would spend $30 million for the property to build 450 age restricted units for 55+ residents.
Prisco reported that of the seven members of the Economic Development Committee, six had voted for the Pulte homes 55+ proposal, while one had supported the proposal for a sports complex.
“I’m just really encouraged and really happy with the variety we got,” said Prisco.
Before any transaction is final, town residents will also vote to determine the fate of the property, likely at a special Town Meeting in early 2017.