Developer: Westborough Plan More Than Hollywood East

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Developer Anton Nel detailed his proposal for the Westborough State Hospital area to the Planning Board on Thursday night.
Developer Anton Nel detailed his proposal for the Westborough State Hospital area to the Planning Board on Thursday night. Photo Credit: Jeff Nowak

WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — The proposed development for the former Westborough State Hospital has been given the nickname "Hollywood East," but developer Anton Nel called the name a misnomer.

"What I want to do out here is exactly the opposite of Hollywood East," Nel said.

"Hollywood East is just labeling it another Hollywood, and it's more than that — it's a smart film-making destination."

Nel spoke to the Westborough Planning Board on Thursday night, detailing what he'd like to do with the roughly 90-acre area.

Nel said he recently came to Massachusetts and stumbled upon the parcel by accident. He's teamed up with Randy Waterman of Waterman Design Associates for help in developing the plan and design.

"I don't want to rely on just the film business, but I believe the film business in this state is very vibrant," Nel said. "I don't think it's going to go away overnight."

The property is still state-owned, and will have to be surplussed before Westborough is allowed to develop it, but town officials said preliminary reports are good in that regard.

Nel said he would project the development to take five to six years from start to finish, but was uncertain about what would be developed first.

He said his concept of an upscale boutique hotel has already drawn interest.

"Hopefully, if we can get all these goals going, we can do something out there that's pretty neat for the town," he said.

The presentation was the second to Westborough officials; he displayed his vision for the site to the Westborough Economic Development Committee earlier this month.

Town Planner Jim Robbins, who was at both presentations, spoke highly of the plan.

"This is key, it's a long-term vision and this is what was specifically envisioned in the zoning of this site," he said. The parcel falls into the only "mixed-use" zone in Westborough. 

"The only way for it to succeed is to have a mixed use that will have a 24-hour presence," Robbins said. 

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