Golden Triangle Economic Master Plan
Framingham & Natick, MA
The Golden Triangle is a neighborhood spread across both the Town of Natick and the City of Framingham, both western suburbs of Boston. The community is home to the Natick Mall, and comprises what is, outside the urban core of Boston, the metro area's largest concentration of retail. The Triangle is undergoing gradual change due to the shifting market dynamics and the steady decline of traditional retailers. To get ahead of these changes and to plan proactively for them, the two municipalities sought to create a new Master Plan that would examine how the area might change over time, testing ten different land use scenarios.
A consultant team, including RKG Associates, was hired by the two communities to analyze how these potential changes in land use could impact each parcel in the zone. A newly-created model tracked changes in land use and tied them back to performance metrics identified as important to both municipalities. These included square feet of built space by use, assessed values, property taxes generated, trip generation, and fiscal impacts on public services, among others. The results of this build-out analysis were then used as inputs to a travel demand model, which showed how the land use changes might impact traffic flow.
The study showed that the Golden Triangle could absorb up to a 20% growth in built square footage vs. the status quo, and still function as a healthy, vibrant regional center. The two communities weighed zoning changes that would provide more flexible uses, concentrate density in appropriate locations, and encourage transition zones that would protect surrounding single-family neighborhoods from out-of-scale development.
Photo source: The Boston Globe