Closing MCI-Concord ‘pauses’ Junction Village development plan 

By Betsy Levinson
February 1, 2024

By a unanimous vote Tuesday morning, the Concord Housing Development Corporation extended its deadline for developing Junction Village on land in West Concord that abuts MCI-Concord. 

The state Department of Correction deeded the 12.6-acre parcel to the CHDC for affordable housing or open space. 

The CHDC issued developers a request for proposals for the land shortly before the state announced it would be closing the prison this year, freeing up 51 acres adjoining Junction Village. 

Respondents originally had until mid-February to submit their proposals for the land. 

The new deadline is September 30. 

“There are a lot of moving pieces,” said CHDC Chair Lee Smith.  

Smith called for the Select Board to give the CHDC and other housing advocacy groups a seat at the table as the state and town plan for the eventual redevelopment of the prison tract and its wastewater treatment plant, among other out-buildings. 

“This is going to change the town,” said Smith. 

The state legislature is expected to vote in July on the Fiscal Year 2025 budget, which includes language regarding disposal of the property. Pausing the RFP process “will give us a chance to be better informed about what may be the different possibilities for Junction Village,” Smith noted. 

“Why put out an RFP for 12.5 acres when it’s possible that 51 acres, owned by the state, could be considered?” he asked. 

But disposal of the land, and Concord’s role in it, won’t be quick or simple, said CHDC member Peter Lowitt. 

“Let’s re-engage after the Legislature approves the budget,” said Lowitt. 

He said further evaluation is needed, particularly regarding the possibility of access to Commonwealth Avenue from the MCI property and the potential for Junction Village. 

Liz Rust, director of the regional housing development office, called for the town to create a master plan “to define municipal needs” and what properties on the MCI land can be included.  

Rust called for a survey of the outbuildings and of Elm Place, the road off Route 2 that is restricted to MCI use. 

“There are a lot of variables, and it may take a while to unwind,” said Rust. 

Smith cautioned, though, that the town may not want to wait until the state sorts out the options for MCI-Concord. 

“I think we have to move forward,” he said, as “it would be a mistake” to wait to see how the final disposition of the property comes together. 

Ann Sussman spoke on behalf of the West Concord Advisory Committee to urge collaboration with the CHDC on Junction Village. 

Stephan Bader, a member of the Concord Housing Authority, suggested inserting amendments into the legislation “that are in the town’s best interest.” 

Smith suggested one representative from each of the housing groups be included in a future committee to work with the Town Manager’s office. Select Board member Linda Escobedo also said there are “opportunities” for including housing groups in future planning.  

“The entire parcel should be overseen by a master plan,” Smith said, pointing to the redevelopment of the former Air Force base at Devens. 

“There will be a lot of activity,” said Smith, and “many interested parties will be involved” in what could be a mix of residential, retail, commercial and municipal uses. 

“The potential is massive,” he said. “Good, bad or indifferent, time will tell.”