Select Board Considers Senior Center Proposals

Reading, MA — Town Manager Fidel Maltez reported that the town received two responses from its Request for Proposal, which was issued to determine space available for purchase in town for use as a senior center. The two responses were from the new owners of the former Walgreens building at 17 Harnden Street and the owners of the former Rite Aid building at 25 Haven Street. Proposed purchase prices for the buildings were only discussed in executive session.

Former Walgreens located at 17 Harnden

Maltez did share preliminary ideas regarding how either of the sites could be used as well as possibilities for retaining and expanding the current Pleasant Street Center and use of the site on Oakland Road across from Reading Memorial High School. Maltez noted that stakeholders had little enthusiasm for the Oakland Road site.

Former Rite Aid location at 25 Haven Street.

The Pleasant Street Center has 2,500 gross square feet of space and sits on half an acre with thirty parking spaces. Possible plans for this site include expansion of the building to three stories with a combined 20,000 gross square feet and two levels of parking with up to fifty parking spaces – possible costs for this expansion range from $24.9 million to $28.4 million.

The former Walgreens on Harnden Street sits on a quarter of an acre, with a parking lot adjacent. The building has 10,000 gross square feet on the first floor and 5,000 gross square feet on the second floor. Possible costs for upgrading this building are $9.9 million to $10.5 million, not including the cost of purchasing the property.

As previously reported in the Reading Post, the Harnden Street property was recently sold to JALA Hospitality, LLC of Upper Saddle, New Jersey, for $6,500,000. The deed was recorded on December 13.

Maltez suggested two options for facilities on the four-and-a-half-acre property on Oakland Road. Either would create a building with 16,000 gross square feet and ample parking. The cost for the first option could be from $19 million to $22 million, and the second option could cost from $17.6 million to $20.3 million.

The final proposal would seek to tear down the current building at 25 Haven Street and replace it with a three-story building with forty-five parking spaces on the lowest level and two stories of program space totaling 24,100 gross square feet on the upper levels. The potential cost for this option could be between $27.5 million and $31.6 million. This also does not include the cost of purchasing the property.

Maltez mentioned that the Symonds Way property was not placed on the list of options as a separate process is underway to determine the best use of the space available on that site. Chair Mark Dockser shared that the Reading Center for Active Living Committee had voted to recommend the community consider a joint senior/inter-generational center. The Select Board adjourned to executive session at 9:05 pm to consider the purchase prices of each proposed property and valuation considerations. Returning to open session just before 10:00 pm, Dockser stated that the board would continue its discussion of this topic at its next meeting on February 7.


The board voted 5-0 to approve a $1,534,800 no-interest bond from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. Town Treasurer Diane Morabito explained that this funding will be used to complete the final phase of the downtown water and sewer project and will be a ten-year bond with the first payment due in February 2024. 

Housing Production Plan

The board also voted 5-0 to approve the Housing Production Plan, which will now be submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. A working group developed the plan at community sessions. The plan was presented to the Community Planning and Development Commission and the Select Board. Community Services Director Andrew MacNichol noted that the plan gives the town “A lot to think about moving forward.”

The Select Board adjourned at 10:10 pm.

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