HomeNewsCenter School Redesign Concepts Presented

Center School Redesign Concepts Presented

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20th Century Homes

Key Takeaways

  • Joseph and Lobisser presented a mixed-use building concept with retail on the ground floor and 45 age-restricted units above.
  • The property is estimated to generate $3.75mm in additional property tax revenue over 10 years.
  • The developers have offered to donate two acres for a public park.

Tonight, the Hopkinton Permanent Building Committee (PBC) heard a proposal for the redevelopment of the Center School property from Chuck Joseph and Kevin Lobisser. 

Joseph and Lobisser, operating as The Joseph Group, have completed several similar projects in Hopkinton and the MetroWest. Notably, Joseph was instrumental in bringing the Hopkinton Center for the Arts project to life.

>> WATCH: Joseph Connects the Historical Dots

>> RELATED: Breaking Down the Options for Center School and other Town Buildings

The pair presented a plan that included 5,000 square feet of commercial space on the main floor with 45 age-restricted housing units above. By a deed covenant, at least one owner of each unit will required to be 55 years or older. Additionally, 5 of the units will be deemed affordable housing, while the others will be sold at market rate.

The sale of these units will bring significant revenues to Hopkinton. Reportedly, Town Assessor John Neas conservatively estimated $3,750,000 in additional property tax over a ten year period. But Neas based his estimate on a $550,000 sale price, while condos in Hopkinton are trading in the $800,000 price range, so the tax revenue the town stands to gain is likely significantly more.

The design proposes to elongate the building and center it on the lot, providing relief to the residential neighbors on both sides. The existing 1928 Center School facade will be preserved.

As part of the proposal, the Joseph Group will donate 2 acres to the town for use as a public park. This will connect to the other 6 acre parcel further back on the lot that is already designated for trail use. A parking lot will be built at the trailhead.

The Joseph Group is proposing to pay the town $100,000 to purchase the Center School building and property. This is in line with several recent comparable sales of older schools, including Middle School East in Milford, which sold for $115,000 and the Elliot School in Natick, which traded for $100,000.

Previously, consultants for the town working on behalf of the PBC assessed the Center School. The report noted significant water damage throughout the building, as well as the presence of asbestos.

“It will take us about $2,000,000 in remediation just to get us to the starting point,” said Joseph. PBC Chair Dan McIntyre confirmed that the PBC’s architect had estimated about the same. 

McIntyre expressed disappointment that the Joseph proposal did not include more mixed-use development. Joseph replied that the building envelope and preservation requirements make the project challenging to be profitable for any developer. He also pointed to the Center School’s distance from I-495 as one reason why it would not be attractive to a larger business, such as a medical center, but did suggest it would be viable to smaller retail shops and restaurants. “It will be driven by the market,” said Joseph.

Should the plan be approved, a town meeting vote will be required to authorize the sale of the Center School property and rezone the parcel. The developers will also need to secure approvals from the Historical Commission and Planning Board. Once approved, Mr. Lobisser estimated the project will take 12 months to complete.

“With the HCA, the remodeled public library, and now this as your Eastern bookend overlooking the town gem, Hopkinton’s downtown could become vital within 3-4 years,” said Joseph.

Existing Structure and Conceptual Renderings

Joseph and Lobisser presented several conceptual renderings to the group. Click to expand each picture.

20th Century Homes

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    • From what was discussed, the property would command a much higher price were it not asbestos-laden and condemned. As it is, the town has a dead building on its hands. The $2mm in remediation costs are contemplated in the sale price.

  1. Great that it is being thought of as potential over 55 residences, but only 5 of the 45 will be deemed affordable. Market rate condos selling for $800,00 or more does not solve any problems with regard to people who would like to stay in town after their retirement. I hope that the powers that be, and the town meeting recognize that all this is is more of an opportunity for individual developers to get rich off Hopkinton’s poor planning. And the town rubbing its palms over the possibility of all those property taxes without having to worry building more schools really makes this proposal close to a done deal. Seniors who can afford an $800,000 condo + hoa fees + Hopkinton taxes may be a smaller demographic then one might think.

    • Kelly, as you may or may not know, the developer is required to provide 10% as “affordable” units. No developer who believes in capitalism is going to provide more units at affordable prices than he is mandated to.

      I’m not defending the plan. Just providing context.

  2. I don’t hate this plan. But it also feels like the Town sees a lot of bait and switch from developers that promise the world and then find lots of reasons why they can’t follow through on those promises once development starts due to “unforeseen conditions”. I’m thinking most recently of the historic building that was torn down across from Weston Nurseries. The developer let that sit with no maintenance until it could no longer be restored, despite their earlier agreements. If a developer promises something it’s up to our town committees to see that agreement it is met, period.

  3. My first thought when the Center School was abandoned was to house School Administration offices in that space. Currently and for several years, Hopkinton has been leasing space across from the Middle School.
    Once alterations, repairs and remediation are complete, it wouldn’t take long for the town to realize a win…win. Keep it a town owned property and lose the lease that the schools are paying.
    The proposed plan will increase traffic in the down town area, which it doesn’t need.
    Just saying.

  4. I like you Chuck, but after listening and watching for over a quarter century, I do not recall any residential development that met the promise of being a net positive cash flow to the town unless perhaps they are assisted living facilities. We were promised over 55 at Legacy and the financial burden to the town has been huge. Forgive me for having a lack of trust but watching history repeat itself makes me recoil at the suggestion of housing.

    • With respect to Legacy, here are a few numbers for your consideration:

      • Total assessed value of all Legacy Farms properties: $485,469,000
      • Average tax paid: $11,172
      • Total tax paid (Legacy Farms, 2022): $7,675,265
      • Total tax collected (all of Hopkinton, 2022): $84,279,784
      • Legacy Farms % of all tax collected: 9.1%

      The total cost of Public Safety (police, fire) for Hopkinton in 2023 was $7,674,460. One can make the argument that Legacy Farms residents are funding public safety for the entire town (and for what it’s worth, fire and police are rarely called to LF).

  5. While $800,000 condos for 55 plus won’t help MA solve it’s housing crisis, that building sure looks pretty and the combined commercial and residential space will be likely not draw ire from the abutting landholders. It’s a proposal that could turn a hulking environmental wreck into some lovely living space. We still need a town gym though, anyone interested in putting one in?

  6. The ABSOLUTE GREED evidenced in what was once the sweet little town of Hopkinton is totally reprehensible. FIVE “Affordable” units, “AFFORDABLE” to whom I would like to know. It is totally disgusting that some out of town developer makes money off of a building and its property that belongs to the people of Hopkinton and their memories. What an awful place Hopkinton has become, full of awful people and run by equally awful opportunists.

  7. The sides look like every other new development around the state. Could it not look more like a historic building (still keeping balconies) so it doesn’t look dated in ten years.

    • Looks like every condo building that went up in minutes in every city in America, especially in California. Of course they were all built by greedy real estate speculators who never actually “lived” in any of the places that they inflicted their hideous architecture upon. San Francisco is full of them, ugly boxes that went up overnight to sell to techies who were making huge salaries and needed a place to live; 750 sq ft for $800,000! Wow…what a bargain, does it sound like a town you may know?????

  8. Why weren’t the abutters notified of the Permanent Building Committee Meeting concerning the Center School property?

  9. let’s say this plan moves forward in the near future. how would tenant selection be handled for the ground floor retail space? anyone have insight into how that process typically works? would love to see a small local biz / some sort of ‘third place’ here — and not a chain.

  10. No more housing!! The residential development in this town is out of control. It has changed the rural character forever and we don’t have the infrastructure to support more residents. Let the town catch up to the development that’s already in progress. Construction is still going on at Legacy Farms!! I don’t trust the plan. We were promised a mix of retail use at Legacy and at the condos downtown by the church. It didn’t happen.

  11. The proposed development by the Joseph Group appears to be contextual in architectural design, preserving the existing 1928 Center School structure, and providing a complimentary expansion. I applaud the developer for being willing to take on the restoration of the existing Center School structure. I wish our town committees had more participants with the confidence to maintain and restore older town structures and not looking to turn their back on what we have for the short-sighted cure-all of new construction. Having recently retired from 45 years of restoring older institutional structures. my experience gives me the personal confidence to promote restoration rather than abandonment.

    Getting back to the proposed development, while the proposed residential occupancy is consistent with the downtown location, I must say this is a lost opportunity for town administrator offices and meeting spaces.

    Our current Town Hall is an organizational nightmare having been muddled in circulation and function since the ill-advised renovations of the early 80’s. These issues have been exacerbated over the last 40 years. Try telling someone entering the building how to get to the Selectboard Room or the Basement Conference Room. Center School would have been an opportunity to provide appropriate public gathering spaces with adjacent parking. It would also mean that town administration could expand and would remain consolidated in downtown not spread out over the town. Perhaps even the existing town hall circulation can be returned to what it had been a half century ago?

    While I would have preferred a different occupancy, I am comforted by the precedent set by this group’s recently completed development behind the historic structure adjacent to the Downtown Historic District.


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