Drive around the city of Framingham these days, and you will see common sites – construction cranes, new residential construction, infrastructure investments and revitalized commercial space. Several years of rezoning, improved permitting and the emergence of new industries are all driving a building boom that is boosting Framingham’s status as the MetroWest’s economic engine, and helping the region become in its own right an important economic sector between Boston and Worcester. 

Alta Union House – the first project to break ground in Downtown Framingham in four decades – is under construction. Wood Partners is completing work on the development’s garage, the first step toward bringing 196 new transit-oriented housing units to the area. Just a short distance away, Mill Creek Residential Trust broke ground on Modera Framingham that will bring 270 new residential units for the neighborhood. 

Together, these two projects mean a $133 million investment in Downtown Framingham. Along with several others slated for the neighborhood, these projects are all within walking distance of Framingham’s MBTA commuter rail station, meaning they will bring much-needed housing while encouraging a sustainable, walkable community. 

Because of these and other transit-oriented development projects, Framingham has added at least 750 new construction jobs to the economy in Massachusetts. These projects are contributing to the area’s quality of life in other important ways – more units mean more options for Millennials, active adults and others who are looking for an urban experience but find themselves priced out of the Boston and Cambridge markets. 

It’s not just downtown that is hot in Framingham. On Mount Wayte Avenue, Baystone Development is turning a long underutilized, old shopping plaza into a new, 210-unit apartment complex. Located in close proximity to Framingham State University, the development will also include commercial restaurant space. In recent years, the city has permitted nearly 1,200 new multifamily housing units. While there has been a particular focus on downtown, other neighborhoods are receiving attention, too. 


Yvonne Spicer

Yvonne Spicer

Craft Brewers, Life Science Firms Expanding 

Meanwhile, on the commercial front, Framingham has become a center for craft 

brewing, thanks in no small part to redevelopment efforts by Jack’s Abby Brewing. The board of selectmen and town meeting voted to approve a tax increment financing plan for the company to help it expand in 2015. 

Since then, they have not only expanded manufacturing and opened a restaurant, but also a second, unique amenity – the Springdale Barrel Room. This growth reflects $7 million in total investment while returning 140,000 square feet in once-abandoned manufacturing space to vibrant, revenue-generating use.  

Over the last several years, both public and private sources have invested $56 million in downtown Framingham – that includes private businesses, nonprofit institutions such as Metrowest Medical Center, and public agencies including MassDOT.  

We are also seeing movement in commercial real estate connected to the region’s growing life sciences sector. Just last month, Replimune – a fast-growing biotech company – announced plans to open a new manufacturing facility in the Framingham Technology Park in a site once occupied by the MetroWest Daily News. This follows an expansion by Sanofi Genzyme, which announced in January that it is building a 14,821-square-foot addition to its new $80 million, 72,000-square-foot biomanufacturing facility. Earlier this year, Alira Health filed paperwork to double its space from its current 5,700 square feet to 13,000 square feet, including more laboratory space. 

Because of so much industry interest, in June, Framingham partnered with local companies, the town of Natick and the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce to organize a bus tour that introduced 50 global life sciences executives who attended the BIO International Convention in Boston to growth opportunities in Framingham and beyond. 

It’s an exciting time to be in Framingham as we begin our next chapter of growth. Going forward, we are excited to collaborate with companies, property owners, academic institutions and others in our quest to fully realize our city’s potential. 

Yvonne Spicer is mayor of Framingham. 

Framingham Welcomes Multifamily, Commercial Projects

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 3 min