Foster Property off the market, rezoning plans paused

November 7, 2023
• On the heels of action at Town Meeting, the controversial property looks to be headed in a new direction.

Possible redevelopment of the Foster Property is now in limbo after a new buyer purchased the land, according to an emailed press release from Needham Director of Communications and Community Engagement Amy Haelsen.

In emails sent to developer Northland Residential and town counsel, Choate Hall & Stewart — a law firm representing the Foster Trust — announced the parcel “has been placed under contract” with another undisclosed entity, according to the press release.

This comes just over a week since the Special Town Meeting, where members approved a non-binding resolution to consider rezoning the parcel and, in turn, build a proposed 70 townhouses, some of which would be affordable. The Planning Board would have likely submitted a zoning bylaw change at May’s Annual Town Meeting, at the Select Board’s request.

Now, the town stated it would need more information on how the expected new owner intends to use Castle Farm before moving forward with that previously approved motion.

“The Select Board remains committed to working with the eventual buyer of this property to preserve as much of the land as is possible,” the statement reads, “and will engage the new buyer in discussion to that effect at the earliest opportunity.”

Select Board Chair Marianne Cooley signaled her disappointment in a written statement.

“The purchase of the Foster property presented a unique opportunity for the Town to preserve more open space for our residents and to protect this land now and for generations to come through Town ownership,” Cooley wrote. “We remain hopeful that we can engage with the new buyer to acquire a portion of the property for the Town.”

Last fall, Cooley and the board successfully won approval to obtain 34 acres of the property’s approximately 64 acres for $2.5 million at a Special Town Meeting. Collaborating with Northland Residential, the town aimed to ensure the land would not fall into the hands of a private developer and remain largely open, public space.

Northland Residential did not immediately respond to comment.

This is a breaking story.

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