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Framingham looking for ideas to save Nobscot Chapel

Framingham officials finally put the Nobscot Chapel on the block last week, but it will not necessarily be sold to the highest bidder. The criteria for potential developers to rejuvenate the boarded-up and blighted local landmark is to “reuse, or redevelop the building,” according to the request for proposal issued Wednesday.

The town acquired the approximately 129-year-old former church at 780 Water St. through Land Court in 2011 after its trustees failed to pay the water bill. Town officials debated whether they should auction the property before a Town Meeting article was ultimately passed in June to allow the town to seek proposals for potentially preserving or developing the structure.

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Board of Selectmen vice chairwoman Laurie Lee said putting the project out to bid gives town officials more control over the use of the land than they would have if they merely auctioned it. Lee said officials would even be open to having the building relocated on the land so that the corner of the property could be used more efficiently and economically.

“The whole idea is we didn’t want it to go for the highest price,” she said. “We really feel the chapel is the cornerstone to redevelopment of the Nobscot neighborhood. We wanted to have some control of the proposal. We wanted to make sure they reused the building because we consider it culturally and historically significant, especially to the neighborhood.

“We wanted to make sure any use stimulates investment in the area and stimulates economic development. We have a lot of great things happening in Nobscot; a new branch library is coming nearby and a new TD Bank was built. We consider [the chapel] way too valuable to really try to go to the highest bidder. It really needs to go to the right bidder.”

Sealed proposals for the sale of the property will be accepted at the procurement office until 1 p.m. Feb. 27. For more information, e-mail Amy Putney at alp@framinghamma.gov.

Justin A. Rice can be reached at rice.ju@gmail.com.
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