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Avenu, a new Active Adult Community, featured in MetroWest Daily News

By Henry Schwan
hschwan@wickedlocal.com
Updated May 20, 2018 at 10:01 AM

Avenu at Natick is coming to the bustling Golden Triangle.

NATICK – It’s hard not to notice it when driving on Speen Street across from the Natick
Collection Mall. A new building is slowly making its way skyward in the spot where Sam’s Club once stood.
Avenu at Natick is coming, and when it’s done, it will include an apartment building for
residents 62 and older, and a hotel.  Newton-based National Development is developing the 9-acre parcel.
The potential for increased traffic is tied to the project. It will also have an impact on Natick’s
supply of affordable housing. “It’s a nice, little oasis,” Ted Tye said.
Tye is a managing partner at National Development. He said the 164-unit apartment building
should be finished next summer, and a 135-room Marriott Residence Inn a few months later.
A project of this scope is nothing new for National Development. It recently opened a similar
one in Chestnut Hill that replaced the Circle Cinemas.

Avenu at Natick joins an already bustling commercial, retail and residential scene known as the
“Golden Triangle.”
That’s a popular term for the busy district in Natick and Framingham that falls between Rte. 9,
Rte. 30, Speen Street and the Mass. Turnpike.
Besides Natick Collection, other properties within a stone’s throw of Avenu at Natick include
the Avalon apartment towers, Cloverleaf Apartments, Courtyard by Marriott, Hampton Inn,
Cloverleaf Mall and the MathWorks expansion. Joshua Katzen, owner of Cloverleaf
Apartments, needs permits from the Natick Zoning Board of Appeals before he can build a
second apartment tower next to Cloverleaf.
Tye said his company met with the Natick Planning Board before getting permits to build
Avenu at Natick, and he didn’t hear a lot of concern about traffic.
″(Avenu at Natick) represents relatively low traffic use compared to what was there before,”
Tye said. “In peak hours, (Avenu at Natick) will not contribute a lot (of traffic).”
Of the 164 apartment units at Avenu at Natick, 10 percent, or 17 units, will be affordable,
according to Tye. Those who meet income-eligibility requirements can fill out an application,
and will be chosen by lottery. Tye said there is no local preference for Natick residents, but he
expects a significant number to apply for the 17 units, especially those downsizing from singlefamily
homes.

Roads around Avenu at Natick are a mix of town- and the state-owned. According to the state
Department of Transportation, the main entrance to Avenu at Natick on Superior Drive is
owned by the town. The state owns Rte. 9, its access ramps and parts of Speen Street. A DOT
spokeswoman said the state owns Speen Street between Natick Mall Road and Hartford
Avenue.
Jamie Errickson, Natick’s director of Economic and Community Development, said there’s not
much the town can do about state roads.
In an email to the Daily News, a state transportation official said Superior Drive will be paved
and pedestrian crosswalk flashers will be installed. The new sidewalk will become a multi-use
path for walking and biking. The path will connect the area near Natick Collection with the
Cochituate Rail Trail.
Tye said his company contributed 10 percent of the $60,000 cost to design a path along
Superior Drive to the MathWorks expansion. It was a condition for getting the permits to
build Avenu at Natick.
Traffic around Avenu at Natick can be a challenge, Errickson said, but Natick and Framingham
are working together to figure out ways to improve traffic flow from the Speen Street-Rte. 30
intersection to Exit 13 on the Mass. Pike. He called the area a bottleneck.
One Natick resident believes the town must be careful about how it manages traffic in the
Golden Triangle.
″(Traffic) is a multi-dimensional challenge,” Alan Grady said.
Grady is a founder of the West Natick Neighborhood Association. He lumped traffic in the
Golden Triangle into several categories – pedestrian, commuter, residential, retail and
business.
Understanding each category, and how they fit together, must be understood, Grady said,
before Natick allows more development in the busy Golden Triangle.

Avenu at Natick’s 17 affordable units are available to those making up to 80 percent of the area
median income (AMI). According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development, the 2016 area median income in Middlesex County was $98,100.
State law says all Massachusetts communities must have 10 percent of their housing stock
classified as affordable. If not, a developer could bypass certain local zoning regulations and
build a project larger than a community wants.
Natick’s affordable housing stock stands at 10.4 percent, Errickson said, but the town runs the
risk of not reaching the 10 percent threshold when the next U.S. Census is taken in 2020.
Errickson believes Natick faces a problem shared by many local communities. Families making
over 80 percent of the AMI, but less than 120 percent to 140 percent, have a hard time finding
affordable housing when it’s time to downsize from a single-family home.
As long as the economy is strong and property values continue to rise, Errickson said the
shortage of affordable housing for this middle-income bracket will continue.
Errickson said projects like Avenu at Natick, Avalon and Cloverleaf Apartments don’t solve
Natick’s affordable housing problem.

Tye said Avenu at Natick fills a housing need for those not only looking to downsize from
their single-family homes, but also desire a stimulating environment.
“A lot of (Natick) people fit into this demographic range,” Tye said. “They love the site. It’s
located near retail, and it’s a walkable area.”
Tye said there’s a lot of local enthusiasm for Avenu at Natick.
The 62+ apartments include 12,000 square feet of amenities. There’s a 16,000-square-foot,
landscaped courtyard. Other features include a pool, cabana, lounge and recreation area. A
private dining room, theater, spa, fitness center and yoga rooms round out the amenities.
The 9-acre grounds will include green space, a walking path around the perimeter, and
gardening area.
“It’s nice to go into town and see enthusiasm (for Avenu at Natick),” Tye said. “There’s no
opposition. (Avenu at Natick) will provide a good service to the community.”
Follow Henry Schwan on Twitter @henrymetrowest. He can be reached at hschwan@wickedlocal.com or
(508) 626-3964.