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Edaville owner plans to build housing on park site

Edaville would remain open only for the Christmas season, which already accounts for about 70 percent of the park’s business.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

The owner of Edaville Family Theme Park in Carver wants to build 336 units of housing — 85 of them classified as affordable — in seven buildings on a portion of the 260-acre site under the state’s Chapter 40B law.

The law allows developers to bypass local land use rules to encourage the creation of affordable housing until a community reaches the goal of having 10 percent of its housing stock classified as affordable. Carver is at 3.2 percent, officials said.

Jon Delli Priscoli told the Carver Select Board on Jan. 3 that Edaville would remain open only for the Christmas season, which already accounts for about 70 percent of the park’s business.

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The Thomas the Tank Engine section of the theme park would close, he said, and instead the park would focus on its Christmas lights, train rides, and what he described as a European-style Christmas market. Edaville has been in operation in Carver since 1947.

The apartments would be built on a portion of what is now a parking lot. There would be 182 one-bedroom units, 119 two-bedrooms, and 35 three-bedrooms. The plan also includes extensive public space and trails.

Delli Priscoli said he hoped the Select Board would endorse the plan, making it what’s known as a “friendly 40B.”

“We want to do this collaboratively,” he said. “It’s a chance to solve a huge need for affordable housing and give the town control over its destiny [by reaching the 10 percent goal]. It would give the town valuable public space and keep Edaville alive indefinitely, and make it the best Christmas attraction in the country.”

Ellis D. Atwood founded Edaville in 1947 when he built a 5-mile railbed around his cranberry plantation as a tourist attraction. Delli Priscoli took over in 1999, turning Edaville into a full-scale amusement park in the rural community. The park was closed during the height of the COVID pandemic.

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Johanna Seltz can be reached at seltzjohanna@gmail.com.