It's one small step for Mayor Joseph Curtatone, one giant leap for Somerville: the city's aldermen O.K.'d Curtatone's Union Square redevelopment plan, which could add up to 850 housing units to the area as well as thousands of new residents and square feet of commercial and retail space. While the 850 does not seem like that much in the light of all eternity, do keep in mind that Somerville, like much of the Hub (much of eastern Mass.!), suffers from a chronic housing shortage: Most of the city's stock are small apartment buildings; and, of those buildings, 34 percent are only two units, with just 12 percent having more than 20.
Curtatone's Union Square plan is not to be confused with the larger SomerVision, a 20-year master plan for the entire city that anticipates adding 6,000 housing units and then some commercially and parks-wise (it's handily mapped above). The Union Square plan might be seen as an opening salvo in SomerVision, and is predicated on the Green Line reaching the area sometime in our lifetimes (we kid: it's supposed to be there by early 2017).
Somerville's Big New Assembly Row Focuses First on Small
Mar. 29 2012
Two big apartment buildings are getting under way at one big residential and commercial complex in Somerville. Along the banks of the Mystic (cue wistful music), on the site of a former Ford plant, will rise 2,050 housing units; a 200-room hotel; 1.75 million square feet of office space; 830,000 square feet of retail, including the sort for big-box; and an Orange Line station. It is to be called Assembly Row, what Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone has labeled "the best brand-new neighborhood on the Eastern Seaboard."
The first two buildings, which started construction yesterday, will have 448 apartments over 470,000 square feet. One will have 195 rentals in what The Globe described as "a more traditional apartment complex" while the other will have 253 rentals of smaller size geared toward younger people.
October 5, 2012
The Kraft Group, owner of the New England Revolution, is exploring the possibility of building a $100 million pro soccer stadium at Assembly Square in Somerville.
“Assembly Square is an infrastructure-ready site with good highway access and construction is underway on an Orange line MBTA stop,” said Mayor Joseph Curtatone. “We’d love to have the Revolution as a partner and we think the Kraft Group is the best philanthropic community partner anyone could have.”
The Revolution play at Gillette Stadium which has the capacity for 68,756 fans, while average attendance at a Rev's home game is about 13,300. The team has been looking for a more intimate home since 2007. They first looked at the Brickbottom area, an under-used industrial section of Somerville near the McGrath highway for construction of a 20,000-seat stadium.
In a statement, Brian Bilello, president of the New England Revolution, said: “I can confirm that we are still in communication with Somerville officials about potential stadium locations in their city, including the possibility of a facility in Assembly Square, which is an attractive site for development with its significant transportation infrastructure and proximity to downtown Boston.”
Kraft is also considering the 34-acre Wonderland Greyhound Park. A source told the Boston Business Journal that Somerville and Revere are the leading contenders for the soccer stadium. Kraft hopes to make a decision within the next few months, the source added.
Still, Curtatone said he will not get into a bidding war with any other community.
June 2013:By Chris Sieroty
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Posted: Jan. 11, 2013 | 11:58 a.m.
Steve Wynn, chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts Ltd., said his plans for Massachusetts included a $1 billion hotel as part of his plans to build a casino on an old factory site along the Mystic River in Everett, according to a report Friday.
Wynn told the Boston Globe it's going to be "the fanciest hotel in the Boston area." The hotel is expected to have between 300 and 500 rooms facing the Boston skyline, as well as upscale shops restaurants and a spa, along with a 24-hour casino.
"You have to create a place where people want to go," Wynn told the Globe. "If they gamble, they'll find their way to the gaming tables."
Wynn Resorts is vying with Suffolk Downs and partner Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corp. for the only casino licensed available for Greater Boston. Caesars has proposed a $1 billion casino at the racetrack in East Boston.
Analyst Bill Lerner said a key issue in Massachusetts is obtaining local approval.
"To that end, there have been press reports in recent weeks suggesting that neighboring locations could oppose Wynn's site," Lerner, a principal with Las Vegas-based Union Gaming Group, said Friday in a research note. "In addition, Wynn is already bidding for a license in Philadelphia, and typically prefers to develop two projects (at most) at the same time."
6. 24 2013
In the annals of downtown redevelopment in Massachusetts, the city of Quincy is striking a dramatically different tone.
A $1.6 billion rebuilding effort that officially began Monday features towering structures that are seldom seen in communities outside Boston. In addition to traditional storefronts and commercial offices, those buildings are designed to bring hundreds of new residents into Quincy Center — a place developers hope will stand on its own as exciting city destination.
“This will be the most urban environment you can find outside of Boston itself,” said Ken Narva, cofounding partner of Street-Works LLC, the project’s lead developer. “There will be a lot of tall buildings. It’s going to be dense and vertical, but it will also be intimate at the street level.”
The first phase of construction will result in a 15-story residential building, the city’s tallest structure. It will also develop a cluster of new stores and restaurants. The restoration of a nine-story commercial building will create new offices and a residential wing with loft-style apartments.
Developers and city officials hope the work will set the tone for a broader transformation of the city’s downtown, bringing 3.5 million square feet of new construction over the next seven years. The project, among the largest proposed in Massachusetts, is expected to include several office buildings, 700,000 square feet of retail stores, two hotels, 1,400 residential units, and multiple parking garages with about 5,000 spaces. Some of the buildings could be as tall as 20 stories.
Arlington 360, a mixed-use development full of for-sale townhouses and for-rent apartments, built on the ruins of an old hospital campus will be opening soon.
Designed by The Architectural Team and co-developed by the Jefferson Apartment Group and Upton & Partners, Arlington 360 is meant to a have a neighborhood feel about it (and the website certainly stresses its proximity to nearby existing neighborhoods like downtown Arlington). There are 12 townhouses; 164 apartments; and amenities like parkland, a playground and a pool, all designed, in the words of a rep from The Architectural Team, to bring "new life to the silent property."
Oct. 17, 2013
The City Council has unanimously O.K.d one of the biggest projects in the city in living memory—and one in walking distance to the commuter rail stop.
The project, Moody & Main, will take four mostly vacant buildings around 1 Moody Street in downtown Waltham and turn them into three, five-story buildings with 269 residences, 392 parking spaces and ground-floor retail. More portentously, as one councilor put it, the project's "an absolutely sterling example of smart growth," not least, wethinks, because of the proximity to commuter rail. (Transit-oriented, people, transit-oriented.) Construction could start in the next few months.
Suburban Boston Development News
Project news and information from Boston's suburbs.
'Tis no secret that transit-oriented developments are the wave of the Hub's future. Case in point: proposals to redevelop a parking lot on Austin Street in Newtonville near that village's commuter-rail stop. (By the way, have you heard about the plans for commuter rail? Crazy.) Newton is considering six different proposals for the lot, all of them with residential components.
Here they are:
· Seventy-nine condos and three retail spaces in a five-story, 116,000-square-foot complex (rendered above).
· A three-story building with 25 apartments and 5,000 square feet of commercial space.
· A 129,000-square-foot building for 89 apartments and 5,000 square feet of commercial space.
· Thirty-four 2-BRs (very specific!) with 8,000 square feet of retail as well as a 7,000-square-foot open plaza.
· A four-story complex with 80 apartments ranging from studios to 3-BRs.
· A five-story complex, also with 80 apartments, and room for up to six retail units on the ground floor.
All of these pitches pivot around the transit-friendliness of the would-be redevelopment site. As Jonathan Berk puts it: "Making this development even more attractive is that it is a 16 minute commuter-rail ride to Back Bay Station and the heart of Boston's shopping, dining, entertainment and business districts." Indeed. The city's supposed to pick one of the six by March.
The developer behind Quincy’s $1.6 billion downtown redevelopment said farewell on Thursday, signaling the death of the project in its current form.
In an advertisement in Thursday’s Patriot Ledger newspaper, Street-Works Development LLC said it could not move forward with the envisioned downtown redevelopment and would probably default on the project’s overriding contract, known as the Land Disposition Agreement. “Drawing on thirty years of experience as developers and consultants, we firmly believe that financing and building new construction development in the downtown is impossible today,” said the ad, which was written as a letter to Mayor Thomas P. Koch. “Specifically, the existing Land Disposition Agreement contains prohibitive conditions relating to project cost . . . we at Street-Works cannot presently foresee how these obstacles will resolve.”
The company thanked the mayor for allowing Street-Works to share “your hopes and dreams for a great downtown” and said it hopes to play a role in the redevelopment. The letter comes after city officials told Street-Works it had 30 days to begin the next phase of the redevelopment or it would be in default of the city agreement. That deadline expires next Friday.
Koch said Thursday that city officials are discussing how to proceed. Though the contract states that the city’s “sole remedy” to a default is to terminate the agreement, Koch said Street-Works won’t be automatically kicked out of the redevelopment.
A joint venture between Magellan Development Group LLC and Mesirow Financial Holdings Inc. won the competition to build a 2.3 million-square-foot real estate project in suburban Boston.
The venture led by Magellan Co-CEO James Loewenberg and Mesirow Senior Managing Director Richard A. Stein was chosen June 26 by local authorities to be the master developer of the 12-acre project in the Union Square neighborhood of Somerville, Massachusetts. Somerville, a city neighboring Cambridge about two miles northwest of Boston, was soliciting master developer bids for Union Square in anticipation of a new rail transit stop in the neighborhood.
“We see ourselves as not just developers, but as community partners and place makers,” Greg Karczewski, a Mesirow managing director and development director of the Union Square project, said in a statement. “We promise that the future Union Square will maintain its edge and the authenticity that everybody loves today.”
The Chicago-based venture, named Union Square Station Associates (US2), was chosen from a field of four finalists, authorities said. US2 will work with local authorities and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in the redevelopment effort and will be able to take Union Square property by eminent domain.
“I am pleased that a thorough community process has led to the selection of US2 as our partner in achieving the goals that the community charged us with,” Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone said in a statement. The redevelopment will focus on job creation, public green space, and mixed-income housing “while preserving the history and unique character of our historic commercial center and neighborhood,” Mr. Curtatone said.
The Middlesex Jail at the old Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse in East Cambridge is empty as of Saturday. John Hawkinson at Cambridge Day has the details: "...220 prisoners were transferred from the derelict building at 40 Thorndike Street to the Middlesex House of Corrections in Billerica." The prisoner swap, a precondition of any sale of the 22-story tower, nudges the redevelopment of the courthouse forward toward a future of offices, apartments and retail. Or does it?
A few days before the big move the East Cambridge Planning Team, an advisory panel, overwhelmingly voted against supporting the latest redevelopment plans. Recall that developer Leggat McCall wants to construct 24 one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as thousands of square feet of offices and retail, at the property; the plans have meant with vociferous opposition, most of it pivoting on calls to reduce the height of the tower and thereby reverse what many residents see as the initial mistake of the courthouse building in the first place (it looms over a low-rise neighborhood). Others, of course, recognize Cambridge's dire need of more housing.
In response, Leggat McCall, along with its architect, the omnipresent Elkus Manfredi, have redesigned the building to be shorter by two floors and less glassy. The tower would now be clad in terra cotta (check out the rendering above).
'Tis no more game-changing single community in the entire region than Somerville. The Green Line extension is rolling in waves of gentrification and the city is trying to make it rain techies. If Somerville's morphing so much, which town or city is coming along in its doppelganger wake?
Alana Ferrari, property manager of the newish Batch Yard apartment complex, puts it this way to The Herald's Paul Restuccia: "Everett is what Somerville was 15 years ago." That's not really a compliment, of course, but more of a hope voiced. Whereas Somerville was long seen as the gritty appendage to Cambridge rather than the outright first choice it is today, many currently see Everett as the same thing when it comes to nearby Charlestown or Somerville.
Might, then, Everett be on a path already to the sort of change seen in its neighbor across the river, with its new coffee shops and craft breweries? It might, although that change may tarry.
The City of Quincy once called its New Quincy Center plan "the largest and most aggressive urban redevelopment project currently underway in the United States." One wrench in the machine, though: After being only briefly "currently underway" beginning in the summer of 2013, work halted. The then-developer could not afford to build out the 287-unit project and left behind a rather gaping construction site.
The city is now back with a new developer with new financing.
The first phase calls for a complex called West of Chestnut (that spot had once been dubbed Merchant Row, the site of the short-lived construction). It is slated to have 169 apartments in a six-floor building with 12,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. Construction on that should start early next year and mercifully wrap in 2016.
Boston famously wants to construct 53,000 new units of housing in the next 15 years or so; at the same time, the city seems condemned to building only luxury fare unaffordable to most of its residents. Might smaller neighbor Somerville provide the antidote? Plans are afoot now to double the footprint of that city's already ginormous Assembly Row along the Mystic, according to Casey Ross in the Globe, with a lot of the new space turned over to new housing. The project's residential component, which includes the recently debuted AVA Somerville, is already slated to include more than 2,000 units, most much more affordable than similar properties in Boston. Take AVA Somerville, for instance. There, 1-BRs start at $2,060. The same developer, however, is offering 1-BRs at a Back Bay project for around $4,000 a month.