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Millis prepares for years of housing growth as 324-unit development hits former golf course

BY Grant Welker

10/15/2018
PHOTOS/MATT WRIGHT
PHOTOS/MATT WRIGHT
Michelle Brewster and Pauline Teas, senior sales managers for Toll Brothers, at Regency at Glen Ellen. The development is the largest in a series of new projects in Millis.

A luxury housing development in Millis once derailed by the Great Recession is now poised to kick off a slate of new homebuilding in the small MetroWest community.
In October, finally, pre-construction purchasing began for a 324-unit luxury housing development at the former Glen Ellen Country Club in Millis.
The development, called Regency at Glen Ellen, is replacing an 18-hole golf course and bringing a major project to a town of roughly 8,000 that has not seen much of the wave of the larger projects sweeping nearby Franklin or Holliston.
“It's been a healthy pace for us, but we'll be going through a housing explosion soon,” Millis Town Administrator Michael Guzinski said. “That's how many projects are lined up.”

Beyond Regency at Glen Ellen, The Residences at Dover Road, an assisted-living facility at Dover Road and Bridge Street, is planned to include roughly 100 beds. That project is being built by Framingham-based Barberry Homes.

Town officials anticipate a 34-home subdivision off Main Street and a nine-unit subdivision across Acorn Street from Hickory Hills, a 37-lot subdivision now nearing completion. Kensington Place, a 13-home project off Van Kleeck Road just north of the town center, and a 12-unit rental development on Spring Street are underway.
Derailed plans
Regency at Glen Ellen, which is being built by Pennsylvania developer Toll Brothers, was first approved for senior housing in 2007 as a slightly larger project but was put on hold during the Great Recession and for years afterward. The initial plan called for keeping nine of the golf course's 18 holes, but that was later dropped.

Millis considered buying the golf course property in 2016 for $14 million but Town Meeting members rejected the idea. The town had a right of first refusal for the land because it was of recreational use.
“The town just couldn't afford that,” said Jim McKay, a Millis Planning Board member and the town's public works director.

Glen Ellen Country Club, a property off Orchard Street on the Holliston line, closed last year. Its clubhouse was knocked down, and the course has been left to grow wild. Nearly half of the 136-acre site will be left as open space.
Toll Brothers did not say how much it plans to spend on the development. Millis property records show Toll Brothers bought the property in May for $14 million.
$3.2M in new tax revenue
Regency at Glen Ellen, a 55-plus community, will bring higher-priced homes to a community without the same spike in prices as other MetroWest communities. The median single-family home price in Millis this year through August was $415,000, according to Boston real estate data firm The Warren Group. The number of home sales for the year has fallen by 15 percent compared to the year prior because low inventory.

Sales at Regency at Glen Ellen began in October. Townhomes are listed starting in the low $500,000's and the single-family homes starting in the high $500,000's. Homeowners association fees are $430 per month, and prices top out at nearly $670,000.
Toll Brothers' sales staff said they believe the development will draw both locally and people from out of state looking to live closer to family. Regency at Glen Ellen is planned to include a community clubhouse, swimming pool, walking trails, and tennis and bocce courts.
Units will range from 1,600 square feet to over 2,700 square feet for the the 212 townhomes and 112 single-family homes. Residents can buy new homes or lots with designs to choose from.

“Our diverse offerings of attached and detached home designs, along with the extraordinary amenities will create a unique active-adult, 55-plus community for Millis and the surrounding area,” said Shawn Nuckolls, a vice president for Toll Brothers. “Our active adult customers choose Toll Brothers communities for the lifestyle it allows with beautiful luxury homes and world-class amenities.”
Guzkinski called the development an excellent project for the town, as town officials look forward to new revenue from Regency at Glen Ellen and the other developments and ready for a wave of new construction.

Regency at Glen Ellen alone is projected to bring in $3.2 million a year in new revenue, and other developments are expected to bring in another $1.3 million.
The town's annual operating budget is just over $30 million.

“That's going to be the largest influx that the town has ever seen” for new revenue, McKay said.

While Millis hasn't been as used to the influx of new homes as some other nearby MetroWest towns, the community is already responding. A new, $50-million Millis Elementary School began construction late last year.