Wellesley’s Pond Road is known for its winding and hilly course through dense forest. It’s abutted by farmland, Lake Waban, Wellesley College property, and stately homes, including some owned by the Hunnewells. It’s officially a scenic road, though has experienced a change of scenery since two homes were built near the street over the past year. Also, when you now look across Rte. 135 from the top of Pond Road you see a chain link fence topped with barbed wire in front of the railroad tracks.
Now the scenery at the top of Pond Road, near Rte. 135, could be changed significantly again. The property owner, who sold to the developer of those homes at 194 and 196 Pond Road that are very close to the street, has now apparently sold 200 Pond Rd., to an investment firm. Plans are to build a multi-story, 130,000 sq. ft. assisted living and memory care facility where a 10,000-plus sq. ft. Georgian Colonial estate with a pool and tennis court now stands. That 1990 home, on property spanning some 9.6 acres, has gone on the market in the past for nearly $10M (see dramatic realtor video).
While the address for 200 Pond Rd., is in Wellesley, the long, meandering driveway leads to a compound situated across the town line in Natick.
So exactly how the approval process for this proposal will play out in the neighboring towns remains to be seen. We reached out last week to Natick officials and will update this post if we hear back.
Wellesley officials have had an introductory briefing on the project and have shared information both during the June 27 Select Board meeting (about 27 minutes into the Wellesley Media recording) and in a follow-up email.
The Wellesley Senior Living project comes from HYM Investment Group, Balfour Senior Living & Welltower, and Robert A.M. Stern Architects. We reached out to Balfour in late June, but have not heard back.
The project team’s pitch for the 130-unit facility includes that it will “establish a world-class senior care community in a bucolic landscape” and “preserve the nature of Pond Road” in part by screening the project’s view from those traveling along the road. During summer, when the trees are full, you can’t see much of the 200 Pond Rd., property from the street, though you get a pretty good view of it from those two new homes.
The developer’s presentation to the Wellesley officials included plans to improve the 175 feet of Pond Road (which stretches 6,200-plus feet overall) between the driveway and Rte. 135.
Project planners point out that most residents won’t have vehicles, and that employee traffic will be spread out and reduced via shuttles to public transit. Still, with visitors, employees, deliveries, etc., there’s no doubt that the introduction of such a facility will make crossing Pond Road at the Rte. 135 intersection dicier for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers both during and after construction.
Balfour is an experienced developer of such projects, and has a senior living facility planned in Brookline for 2024.
Wellesley Senior Living will be located just over a mile from a new “luxury senior living” facility in Natick on Rte. 135 dubbed Anthology, which doesn’t appear to include information on its website about pricing (“If you have to ask…”). The large assisted living and memory care facility will have 86 units, and replaced a handful of houses along the Boston Marathon route.
Wellesley Select Board member Ann-Mara Lanza asked during the recent Select Board meeting whether any affordable units might be part of the Wellesley Senior Living plans. Town Executive Director Meghan Jop said she wasn’t sure, though that would be up to Natick, and whether it has an inclusionary zoning provision. The presumably kitchen-less units in such a facility wouldn’t count toward Wellesley’s housing totals, but would provide more nearby housing for seniors.
The Wellesley Senior Living plan could necessitate a rezoning of the land in Wellesley given intentions to use it for commercial activity, Jop said. The project is expected to formally go before the Wellesley Select Board at some point, and then Town Meeting after that if it proceeds.
The project developers are expected to aim for zoning approval in Natick in the fall.