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NATICK – Natick was named a “Strong Town” by the Citytank, an online think tank begun by Dan Bertolet.  Citing its vibrant downtown, its strong community and the involvement of its citizens, Citytank noted that Natick will likely “adapt more successfully than most suburbs to the challenges of the coming decades.”

In keeping with this vibrancy, Stonegate Group LLC is planning to develop the long underutilized Saint Patrick Project in downtown Natick.  Currently the 2-acre site is home to the former St. Patrick and Montrose schools, a closed funeral home and several other shuttered buildings.

“We have met many times with members of the Natick community, particularly those living nearest to the Saint Patrick Project site, and look forward to continuing an open dialogue in order to receive their input,” said Sean McGrath, president of Stonegate.  He noted that Stonegate Group has met several times with key members of the Natick community in order to come up with a plan that would fit in aesthetically with the neighborhood and is confident that the development will add to the vibrancy of the town.

“Plans are moving forward, and we remain resolute in our plans to redevelop this site.  We plan to seek Town Meeting approval this spring for the zoning changes required to proceed with this prominent mixed-use development,” he said.

Working with residential communities is not new for Stonegate.  “We always meet with neighborhood associations and try to address their concerns before we move forward with any endeavor,” McGrath said.

One example is the Penny Savings Bank Project in Boston’s South End.  The Penny Savings Bank was built between 1911 and 1917.  It served as a neighborhood bank until 1959, when it became the Cardinal Cushing Center for the Spanish Speaking.  Until Stonegate purchased the property, it was a thrift store.

Stonegate Group, teamed with Boston architectural firm Finegold Alexander Associates, began meeting with residents in the South End neighborhood shortly after purchasing the property in 2005, presenting their vision — a totally renovated building that included a 9,000-square-foot retail space and 35,000-square-foot residential space.

“We met continuously during the entire building process with local entities such as the South End Landmark District Commission, the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Washington Gateway Main Streets group,” McGrath said.

In addition to keeping the facade of the historic building, Stonegate added a three-story glass addition above the existing building, which allowed for 23 luxury units to be built.

Stonegate also petitioned to move the MBTA Union Park bus stop by 500 feet in order to address concerns about an increase in foot traffic caused by the new retail space.

“Moving that bus stop came at a great expense to Stonegate,” McGrath said, “which shows our commitment to ensure a top-end project.”

Construction was completed by 2007. “In the end, I can safely say that everyone has been very pleased by what we have brought to the South End,” McGrath said.

Today the building houses Boston Chops, an acclaimed restaurant, and is considered one of Boston’s most valued properties.

Stonegate Group LLC is a leading developer and manager of residential and commercial properties.  Stonegate Group LLC also owns and manages over 500 residential units and over 400,000 square feet of commercial space throughout the MetroWest area and has been a leading provider of rental housing for close to 30 years.