Opinion: Rhino Capital proposal best for Lakeville Hospital site

Oct 23, 2022

To the editor: 43 Main St. in Lakeville used to be the bustling home of hundreds of doctors, nurses, support staff, and patients. First opened in 1910, the Lakeville State Hospital grew to a total campus of over 70 acres and was the centerpiece of the Lakeville community. 

 Yet for the past 30 years, the hospital site has sat abandoned and decaying, becoming an unpleasant eyesore to all those entering Lakeville on Main Street. More importantly, it has become a health and safety hazard, attracting crime, drug use, and teenage thrill-seekers despite environmental dangers and asbestos flagged by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

 To promote and encourage a wider variety of uses, the Planning Board has proposed an amendment to the Mixed-Used Development District, which the hospital site currently falls within. A Town Meeting has been scheduled for the evening of Nov. 14 when residents in attendance will vote on the amendment , titled Article 15. A yes vote on Article 15 will allow revitalization of the blighted hospital site. Our firm Rhino Capital, a Boston-based, community-oriented developer, has come forward with a clear vision of revitalization for this property.  

 Our plan for redevelopment of the former hospital consists of two professionally operated warehouse facilities. The newly proposed two facilities, totaling 201,000-square-feet each, will create an estimated 400 jobs and produce an estimated $500,000 per year in tax revenue for the Town of Lakeville. The project will replace the dangerous and unsightly hospital with a development that will benefit the Town. In addition, we have committed to an extensive environmental cleanup and remediation plan that is expected to cost $10 million.

 After hearing concerns of nearby residents, namely traffic, Rhino has revised our plan with the goal of minimizing impacts as much as possible. Nearly all vehicles will run solely on the half-mile stretch between the project site and I-495. Traffic engineers have determined this proposal will generate 682 total daily trips (342 enter/342 exit) of which 121 are trucks,  significantly less than those of other businesses in the area, such as Seasons Gas (2,766 trips), McDonald’s (2,260 trips), and Walgreens (1,582 trips). This use for the site will also generate vastly fewer trips than other residential or mixed-use commercial projects, which have been estimated to reach anywhere from 7,500 to more than 10,000 trips per day. 

 In fact, no other suggested use for this site, whether residential, commercial, or mixed use, is viable, given the extensive environmental cleanup costs it requires. Alternate uses would also create substantially more disruptive impacts on the surrounding community in terms of noise, vehicle traffic, burden on municipal and school services, and more.

 For all these reasons, we respectfully ask every Lakeville voter to come out to Town Meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14 at Apponequet Regional High School on 100 Howland Road, Lakeville. A yes vote on Article 15 makes our proposal for this site possible and is the best and only practical solution to finally redeveloping the old and dilapidated Lakeville Hospital, and replacing it with a clean, safe, productive new use.

If you’d like to learn more about our plans for the Lakeville Hospital, the upcoming vote, or just have questions, please feel free to contact us. We’ve set up a website, www.43MainStreetRevitalization.com, where you can see for yourself what we are proposing. Or feel free to contact us directly at lakeville@rhinocapitalllc.com. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re happy to talk about why we feel this is the best and only chance for Lakeville to revitalize this long-blighted area and create new opportunities for the entire Town.

Tyler Murphy

Head of Construction & Development, Rhino Capital