MassDevelopment went to Shirley selectmen this week to present plans to build senior housing on Hospital Road.
According to Ed Starzek, MassDevelopment's Vice President of Land Entitlements, the land is zoned for retail and commercial uses. But the current economic climate makes such development unlikely in the near term.
There is a need, however, for senior housing.
The vision is for senior living, he said, with some life care and a medical component. The concept he presented calls for a first phase of 30 to 40 units in a two- or three-story building. The opportunity for expansion after that seems highly probable.
The idea was met with enthusiasm by selectmen Kendra Dumont and David Swain. Swain called the need for such housing "huge." Dumont said for her, agreement to provide preference to seniors in Ayer, Harvard and Shirley would bring her support.
Reportedly, the Council on Aging is "very enthusiastic."
To proceed, MassDevelopment must get the voters in the three towns to agree to change the zoning from commercial to residential.
While other MassDevelopment attempts to get super town meeting approval for its residential efforts have failed, it would seem that this one is a no-brainer.
As the state agency continues to work at building Devens, augmenting its senior population would be a great next step.