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NATICK — Seven years after acquiring the former St. Patrick’s School, Stonegate Group has received approval from the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals for a long-awaited mixed-use development at 45 East Central St. (Route 135).

ZBA approval on the project’s comprehensive permit was a critical hurdle, and one of the final steps remaining before construction on the 40B affordable housing development can begin.

Plans include 54 housing units — 14 will be classified as affordable housing — as well as restaurant and retail space.

A rendering of 45 East Central St. in Natick, the site of a proposed mixed-use development helmed by Stonegate Group.

The project faced some pandemic-related delays, and the Natick-based developers spent the past several months appearing before various town boards to seek feedback on designs and answer questions.

“By my count, this is — I think — hearing number nine, and we’ve come a long way, baby,” ZBA Chair David Jackowitz said at the start of Thursday’s meeting. “But tonight’s the payoff.”

The board approved Stonegate’s comprehensive permit application by a vote of 5-0. Assuming no appeals are made on the decision, the next step will be filing for a building permit with the Building Department, Director of Community and Economic Development Amanda Loomis previously told the Daily News.

The former St. Patricks School on East Central Street in Natick.

Jackowitz thanked the team of developers following the vote, praising their professionalism and responsiveness to board questions and concerns.

“Kudos to everyone involved here, and I can’t wait to see this project get built and then someday have lunch and dinner at that restaurant,” Jackowitz said.

The new development will be “a real jewel of the town,” he added.

“We’re pleased that we’re now one step closer to making this project a reality,” Stonegate President Dean Calivas said.

He said his team aims to include retailers that “will continue to energize Natick Center.”

Calivas added: “We’re hoping this maybe becomes a model for other mixed-use developments in town.”

Abby Patkin is a multimedia journalist for the Daily News. Follow Abby on Twitter @AMPatkin. She can be reached at