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Community Snapshot

Woburn

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June 3, 2008

THE GOODS: Woburn is undoubtedly most famous for a high-profile pollution case involving contaminated drinking water, profiled in the book and later movie A Civil Action. Woburn has tried to overcome this legacy with a series of redevelopments of industrial sites into retail or mixed use destinations, and decent schools, many of which are due to be rebuilt. A bustling downtown area boasts ethnic offerings, including Thai, sushi and Brazilian eateries, while a commercial district around I-95 is anchored by a shopping mall, chain restaurants, hotels and the Anderson Regional Transportation Center. Commuter rail service and easy access to both I-95 and I-93 limit commute times to Boston. And its even more convenient for workers on the high tech belt. Office parks on the town's outskirts, as well as light manufacturing, help anchor Woburn's tax base. Much of the housing is younger.

PROS: The city offers a mix of affordably-priced homes, ranging from the stately to larger houses that have been converted into condominiums. There is also a fair amount of new construction with the roomy space sought by growing families, but at prices lower than in neighboring suburbs. Apartments are plentiful for a suburban locale.

CONS: Some of the housing stock, particularly in central areas, looks run down or worn at the edges, and the older multi-family apartments show signs of absentee landlords.

DAVE COPELAND

Median home price: Single family, $330,000; Condominiums, $249,000.
Residential tax rate: $9.18
Average tax rate: $3,401
Choice location: The 1790 House, also known as the Joseph Bartlett House or the Bartlett-Wheeler House, served as a private boys' school in the 19th century operated by Hall Jackson Kelley, who became an advocate for US expansion into the Pacific Northwest after reading the newly published Journals of Lewis and Clark with his students in 1815.
Cocktail party nugget: Marine Corporal Charles McMahon, the last US casualty in Vietnam, was from Woburn.
SOURCES: The Warren Group, Massachusetts Department of Revenue, Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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