Greater Worcester and Central MA growing by leaps and bounds

According to a recent review of United States Census Bureau data, the central Massachusetts area in and around greater Worcester has seen an increase in building and development activity, showing that many of these communities are bouncing back from a listless economy. New residential real estate is springing up all over for affordable housing, multi-family dwellings and single family homes and with it brings much optimism for the housing market in these areas.

The recession saw many building projects put on hold in Central Massachusetts, but things are picking back as the numbers clearly indicate. Shrewsbury is one area that is seeing “a lot of activity” according to one builder. Worcester’s Route 9 community issued 51 new building permits last year. Holden saw a dip in the number of permits from 2010 numbers but maintains a steady growth rate since 2006.

According to an inspector from Grafton’s buildings and zoning enforcement office, it’s all about location, location, location as they say. Grafton is a great bedroom community and the fact that it can boast the most projects started last year just goes to prove it. Three Chapter 40B projects, also called affordable housing projects, helped to increase the number of building permits issued.

In addition to the three affordable housing projects, Grafton also has a 43-unit project that is not considered affordable housing, which demonstrates that the growth being seen encompasses all markets. There have been 14 permits issued for Grafton so far this year and the busy season has yet to begin, said the inspector. And some of the projects that sat idle after receiving permits during the recession have renewed their development activities.

Holden, Lunenburg and Northborough are seeing the same levels of activities, with a greater percentage of it thanks to multi-family housing projects. Although the number of permits issued last year compared to the previous year pale in comparison, the number of property developments underway simultaneously in Northborough is similar to Grafton’s.

Prior to this flurry of activity, many communities, including Worcester, had a chance to review and analyze their zoning regulations and housing plans to sync them up with their master plans going forward. All this change in zoning regulations, land use and planned unit development varies across municipalities, making it a challenge for developers and builders to ensure compliance when planning a project. Consulting with a local law firm that focuses on such issues can speed the process and ensure a more timely and profitable endeavor for developers.

Source: GoLocalWorcester, “The Fastest Growing Communities in Central Mass,” Walter Bird Jr. May 19, 2012