Developers looking to purchase the Malden Hospital site have a new plan for the property. Representatives from the Fellsmere Housing Group presented their most recent plan for redeveloping the Malden Hospital property to the City Council at its April 3 meeting. The new plan calls for 250 units, with the majority of the property’s 17.58 acres being publicly accessible green space. “We think this plan is good for Malden,” said FHG principal Tony Green. Green explained that all of the units would be “homes for ownership,” containing 18 townhouses, 18 cottages and 214 condominiums, the latter in a four- to five-story building, including parking. They plan to target “empty-nester” couples, and would design the interior of the units to appeal to that category of homeowners.
In addition to housing, FHG plans to build and maintain continuous walking loops through the property that would connect to current ones in the adjacent Fellsmere Park. They would also narrow the hospital road, which they claim would discourage cut-through traffic, and provide a rush-hour shuttle service for residents to the Orange Line. In total, they expect the development to provide Malden with $1.5 million in annual tax revenue in addition to a $500,000 grant to the city for public improvements. The proposal represents the group’s lowest unit count since its involvement with the property, with earlier proposals containing as many as 400-plus units. Public outcry over the increased density has seen the group lower that number several times, but Green said that this is the lowest they could go. “This plan responds to what we heard,” he said. “It is the best proposal we can make.”
Even though the property is currently owned by Hallmark Health/Wellforce, zoning on the site only allows for single family homes. In order for any such development to be built, the council would have to change the zoning for the area.
Though the meeting wasn’t a public hearing, Councilor John Matheson sponsored any audience member to voice their opinions on the matter, one of which was former City Councilor Neil Kinnon. In his remarks, Kinnon detailed several statistics concerning the site, including two ballot questions in the 2015 election, in which he said that 68 percent of voters voted against multi-unit developments outside of the downtown area and 71 percent were in favor of seeing the city look into acquiring the property. “We owe nothing to Hallmark Health,” he said. “We reward Hallmark Health by changing this zoning.”
After the public remarks concluded, Matheson himself weighed in on the matter.
“We are not here to serve developers,” he said. “The city serves the residents.”
Though Green asked that the matter be taken up by the Ordinance Committee, no action was taken by the council.