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Murray Gives Vicksburg Square Proposal a Boost

March 19, 2012 : The Lowell Sun, by Hiroko Sato

DEVENS – Saying Devens is important to the region’s economy and veterans, Lieutenant Gov. Tim Murray visited Vicksburg Square Monday morning to endorse the $83 million project to convert the empty Army barracks there into 246 units of affordable apartment for seniors and veterans.

“The Patrick-Murray administration is behind this project,” Murray said as he stood on the door steps to a historic brick building that makes part of the 19.6-acre quadrangle. “It’s a great opportunity (for the region) on so many levels.”

Murray’s endorsement comes as area residents try to prepare for so-called Super Town Meeting scheduled for March 28 to vote on the housing project. Super Town Meeting refers to a Town Meeting that takes place simultaneously in each of Ayer, Harvard and Shirley – the three towns that have input over zoning issues at the former U.S. Army base.

Proposed by Trinity Financial of Boston, the project calls for 78 units of senior housing and 168 apartment units that come with a preference for veterans. Eighty percent of the entire project would be affordable. MassDevelopment, a quasi-public economic development agency that provides municipal services to Devens, selected Trinity for Vicksburg Square redevelopment through a request-for-proposal process.

Murray pointed out that the housing development is projected to create 150 construction jobs while preserving the buildings that have a significant place in the region’s military history. Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, also joined Murray in speaking in support of the project, saying housing development and economic development go hand in hand and that the Vicksburg Square project fits into the vision of smart growth.

Several area residents and town officials, along with many construction workers, joined Murray, Eldridge and MassDevelopment CEO Marty Jones at the press conference to show their support for the project.

© Copyright 2012 The Lowell Sun.