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Trinity renews Medfield’s historic landscape

By Madison Butkus

Hometown Weekly Reporter

Included within the expansion of the Bellforge Arts Center, the historic Medfield State Hospital (MSH) grounds are additionally receiving major upcoming changes over the next few years. Trinity Financial, a real estate company located in Boston, MA, was chosen out of two respondents to Medfield’s Reuse Master Plan, in which they proposed a historic adaptive approach of the twenty-seven contributing buildings on this campus. 

When sitting down with Spokesperson Greg Lane and Assistant Project Manager Amanda Alberda, both from Trinity Financial, they discussed the ongoing process of making their proposal a reality. “In 2014, the town of Medfield acquired the site from the state,” Alberda stated, “and they wanted to preserve the buildings and prevent further deterioration. From 2014 to now, over the last ten years, they have completed a strategic Reuse Master Plan that passed the zoning for the Medfield State Hospital Historic District, they did a planning and zoning study and they issued a RFP for private development in 2021. Trinity was a respondent to that RFP. We were one of two respondents. The other respondent offered a multi-million dollar purchase price and to raise the campus entirely and do townhomes and single-family homes in twice the amount of density than Trinity proposed. Trinity proposed historic adaptive reuse of the twenty-seven contributing buildings in the quarter campus and a fully residential project. We proposed 334 units of mixed income housing, 25% of which is internally restricted at incomes of 80% of AMI (area median income).” 

Due to the historic significance of this land, the Select Board of Medfield made the near unanimous decision to proceed with Trinity’s proposal. Since their last town meeting in 2022, Trinity had their most recent meeting on February 6th to go over everything they have accomplished since 2022 on the site, what lies ahead in 2024, and the different state grants they have received. 

Back in 2022, Trinity had conducted a laser scan of all twenty-seven buildings, collecting data on the measurements of each building and rooms. Upon this scan, they also detected traces of lead and asbestos within the buildings, creating a hazardous work environment that ultimately needs to be solved. 

The town has received two grants to help fund this project, one of which was the second largest grant made by the state in this category. The town of Medfield received close to $4.5 million dollars to help work on the infrastructure already set up on these grounds, including new public roadways, installing a new sewer extension to the buildings and remediating traffic conditions like intersections. The state further received an additional $500,000 to conduct a full investigation of the hazardous materials on the campus so that the town has an understanding of the full freight of cost to remediate these buildings.  

Trinity is also looking to utilize state and federal historic tax credits in order to preserve all of the buildings on these grounds. In this process, they have to connect with the Mass Historical Commission who administers the state historical tax credit program and the National Parks Service who administers the federal historic tax credit program. In the Spring of 2023, they had submitted a part two application to both of those entities that included the existing conditions of the site and what their building plans are going forward. Part one of this application had already been approved, recognizing the historical significance of the site and putting it on the National Historic Register. 

Between the grant applications, along with the other volumes of material needing review on each building, the project as a whole has been delayed from time to time, but Trinity is hopeful that the clarification process will be finished soon. Once the state has fully committed to the funding needed for this massive project, Trinity projects they could close and start construction as soon as nine to twelve months from the commitment. With a twenty-seven building, forty-eight acre campus, they are looking at a thirty month construction period. 

Since the doors on these buildings have been boarded shut for the last fifty years, these buildings ultimately hold the town of Medfield liable for any and all hazardous material on site, especially if an accident were to happen. Working together, the town of Medfield and Trinity are going through this remediation process as quickly as they can and making sure certain security measures are in place for the safety of the community. 

Medfield residents can rest assured that Trinity Financial is the perfect fit for this massive project. “One of the respondents offered tens of millions of dollars for this project,” Alberda stated, “so if the town wanted a quick payday, they had an option there. Trinity offered $2 million dollars as a purchase price which is $1.2 million dollars less then the town paid for the land itself and they have to share a percentage of it. We have seen this throughout the process, as a rescue mission. This is the exact type of project that Trinity prides themselves on. Our kind of slogan is that we do complex and transformative development projects, this is exactly that. You have a community like Medfield, which is desirable to live in, but does not have a great amount of starter homes or apartments if someone wants to downsize. Not only is it a desirable community, but the historic adaptive reuse is super interesting to us. We have done a number of Mill building conversions. So this is exactly the type of project that is truly transformative, to have a vacant, abandoned yet beloved community asset, and have the opportunity to create 334 units of housing, create 85 units of affordable housing, and work directly with the Bellforge Arts Center to create a new neighborhood in Medfield that will truly be transformative. This is the most complex project we have ever taken on where development costs are in the hundreds of millions, but all that being said, we find it very exciting and it is ultimately about the buildings and making sure we preserve them, new life is breathed into the campus, and it continues to be an asset for Medfield for many years to come.” 

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