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Community Snapshot

Needham

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June 3, 2008

THE GOODS: An inner suburb with commuter rail and easy highway access, Needham has become a highly desirable bedroom community, with home prices to show for it. This used to be a town of economic diversity, a popular movin' on up location for middle-class Bostonians. Recognizing that younger generations may not be able to buy in their hometown, town fathers are building affordably-priced housing duplexes within a walk to the downtown. Revised zoning may soon allow apartments on top of the new boutiques that line the downtown, and the restaurant scene has surprising size and diversity, Japanese, Indian and Vietnamese cuisine. Civic activism is very high.

PROS: Older homes include many beautiful, larger antiques, most Colonials, that have been renovated and sit on large lots, especially so along the main streets such as heavily sought-after Great Plain Avenue. Other areas include the usual mix of well-cared for post-war and older traditional styles. Much of the high-end housing stock is sprawling new construction. The schools are well-funded and retain impressive rankings. The meandering Charles creates special pockets, such as Charles River Village.

CONS: There isn't much entry-level housing here, and what's available generally comes from the small condominium stock. Also, the sidewalks roll up early here, something town officials are re-thinking. They're also considering building a center for its active population of seniors.

FRANCI RICHARDSON ELLEMENT

Median home prices: Single family, $650,500
Residential tax rate: $9.70 per thousand
Average tax bill: $6,664
Choice location: The 700-acre Cutler Park, with trails for birding, hiking, and biking, holds the largest salt water marsh on the middle section of the Charles River.
Cocktail party nugget: Needham High School's football rivalry against Wellesley is the longest running in the country, having started in 1882.
SOURCES: The Warren Group, Massachusetts Department of Revenue, town of Needham

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