State Hospital Plan Wouldn't be 'Hollywood East'
Developer meets with planning board.
A reuse concept for the Westborough State Hospital site would be “exactly the opposite of ‘Hollywood East,’” the developer says.
DiasporaCapital CEO Anton Nel told the planning board Thursday night that “we can do film much smarter in Massachusetts than they do in Hollywood.”
Nel said his vision for the state-owned state hospital site has a film industry component, including a soundstage, as well as “a boutique hotel”; retail; keeping the town’s playing fields there, and upgrading them with lighting and wheelchair access; adding an amphitheater for community use; saving every building, if possible; and preserving “the ambience that exists at the moment.”
Nel, attorney Christopher Senie, and Randy Waterman of Waterman Design Associates presented Nel’s concept to both the planning board and about 10 residents, including some town officials.
It was just Nel’s second public presentation. He discussed his ideas with the economic development committee recently.
“There’s definitely an opportunity here to develop something for the town, and create a win-win situation for everyone,” Nel said.
Senie said the state is “interested in surplusing and selling off the state hospital site.”
“The state has gotten very serious about this. There is a 90-plus-or-minus acre parcel that they have actually offered to sell to the town. There is a specific proposal that has been received by the town manager,” Senie said.
“The town has an interest in purchasing it and re-selling it if it can be done in such a way that we can preserve the lakefront near Lake Chauncy and some of the athletic fields that are used today.”
“I hope you will find the proposal as exciting as I do.”
Waterman said Nel hopes to get 90 to 110 acres for his project. The state would keep 20 to 25 acres, including two Department of Mental Health buildings at the front of the site, he said.
Waterman said it’s “very, very early in the process.” His firm has “only been looking at the site for about three or four days,” he said.
Nel said the development would span five to six years.
Town Planner Jim Robbins said it’s “good to hear someone has a vision for this that is long term” and consistent with “what was intended when zoning was developed for this site.”
“It looks like a great project. I’d love to see you do it,” member Joanne Mallozzi said.
Waterman said he would contact Robbins to set up a series of meetings.