Village-style housing pitched for Lockheed Martin site

May 2, 2022

MARION _ A village-style community housing concept featuring apartments, cottages, townhouses and assisted living on the site of the vacating Lockheed Martin received a positive reception from the Planning Board Monday night.

This concept was drawn up for the town to give direction to Lockheed Martin, located at 7 Barnabas Road, as the company puts the property up for sale. That could happen as soon as this week, Town Administrator Jay McGrail said.

Lockheed Martin announced early last year that the Marion location would close by the end of 2022. The company is the largest employer in town, with 400 jobs set to be relocated, company officials have said.

The select board also responded favorably to the housing concept at their Tuesday night meeting. But select board member John Waterman stressed this proposal is strictly “a beginning” and nothing has officially been decided. 

 “It’s a vision,’’ he said. 

Based on the rendering, the site could potentially include 60 senior independent living townhouse units, 65 senior cottages, 48 units of assisted living and 168 apartment units, in seven buildings of 24 units on three floors each. 

The town hopes the portion of the site where Lockheed Martin houses its business operations would remain light industrial, McGrail said.

The housing, if it were approved, would be located on the vast majority of the 40-acre space the company owns that is currently unoccupied.

Although the town does not control the Lockheed Martin land, Marion is “in the driver’s seat,’’ McGrail said, because any changes to the property’s use would need town approval. 

“This would allow Lockheed Martin to market the property with a concept we would support,’’ he said. “We want to help Lockheed Martin to entice developers to come to us with something we’d want to see.’’

The plan was created by Peter Flinker, of the architectural and landscape planning firm of Flinker & Dodson and reflects the call in the town’s master plan for senior housing to accommodate Marion’s growing elder population, McGrail said.

The concept presented by Flinker featured 60 senior independent townhouse units, 65 senior cottages, 48 units of assisted living and 168 apartment units, with seven buildings of 24 units, each on three floors. No age restrictions would be placed on the apartments.

The development would include a community-like setting that would encourage socialization, Flinker said. Open space would be part of each cluster of homes, he said, and parking would be located in a less obtrusive location in the development to create a village-type look.

Flinker said he hopes the community would create “the feeling you’re in a walkable village that could be 100 years old.’’ 

The site is currently zoned industrial. To accommodate the housing, the town would likely seek to create an overlay district, McGrail said, which is a zoning district that is superimposed on portions of other districts.

“The best and highest use for a developer is some sort of housing’’ at the site, McGrail said. “If that happens, the best thing the Town of Marion can do is control what we are looking for,’’

Some Planning Board members questioned having so much of the property subject to age restrictions on much of the proposal and whether the proposal was too dense for the area. 

McGrail said he would mention those concerns to Lockheed Martin. He said Tuesday that he plans to meet with the broker for the property soon.

McGrail reminded the public that the proposal under discussion is far from finalized. “There’s a lot of work’’ to be done, McGrail said.

Lockheed Martin company has deep roots in town. The Marion location began as Francis Associates, an electrical-mechanical engineering firm founded by brothers Tim and Sam Francis alongside Phil Tabor in 1940. In 1981, the company went public as Sippican Ocean Systems, Inc., before being acquired by Lockheed Martin in 2004. 

Sippican Ocean Systems had been a key manufacturer of underwater warfare technology for over 40 years prior to its acquisition. According to the aerospace and security company, the team at the Marion location works on the U.S. Navy’s undersea programs, including the MK-48 Heavyweight Torpedo.