There are two types of people in the world: those who think that the Riverside Station site should be exploited with fairly intense development and those who think just about any development is too much. Both groups were disappointed last night at the first Land Use Committee public hearing on the BH Normandy/MBTA special permit application.

Those who think the site should be used for a significant mixed-use, transit-oriented development that will generate significant property-tax revenue continue to be disappointed by the proposal. But, the biggest disappointment might have come when the economic impact numbers were revealed. The developer is forecasting $778K in net revenue to the city (property taxes minus cost of services), which you’ve got to figure is optimistic. Meh.

Those who think the site should not generate any more traffic on Grove Street or create other local impacts are likewise disappointed. While the site is significantly scaled back from earlier proposals, neighbors feel it’s still too big. And, with the relatively paltry revenue to be gained, why should they put up with the impacts?

It’s a challenging site, made more challenging by the state’s inexplicable refusal to budge on requirements that prevent a top-quality development. The maintenance yard stays. They’re going to build a massive parking garage on the key part of the parcel. Newton, your Alewife awaits.

As Alderman Amy Sangiolo said (echoing Kay Khan and others), it’s inexplicable that the state is not an active participant in discussions with the city. It’s time for the city to say to the state: call us when you’re ready to do something great here.

40B? I’m coming to the conclusion that apartments would be just fine. When the MBTA gets religion on the real value of the site, they can develop the maintenance yard into commercial and retail space.







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