Newton Mayor Setti Warren released this statement this morning
It is with great optimism and excitement for the future of Newton that I announce the selection of Austin Street Partners development team to design and build a mixed-use project on the Austin Street Municipal Parking Lot. Our overarching goal in developing this property is to improve Newtonville by creating a vibrant and robust village center while improving parking and traffic flow.
This decision comes after a thorough review of the strengths of several competent and competitive teams, which I wish to thank for their thoughtful proposals. Director of Planning and Development, Candace Havens coordinated review of the qualifications of the teams with a group of expert evaluators, sought the advice of a professional financial analyst, visited representative sites, consulted with several other department heads, and considered public comments in making this recommendation. I am confident that Austin Street Partners has the essential qualities to create a successful addition to the village of Newtonville.
Austin Street Partners is team of accomplished professionals with excellent references that have designed and built comparable projects in New England that showcase their abilities. This team has the financial capacity, commitment to sustainability, and collaborative approach to design and implementation that distinguish them. Their GreenStaxx modular system with off-site construction allows for parking on the site throughout construction and also reduces the duration of construction, thereby minimizing impacts on local businesses, which is very important to the ongoing vitality of the village. This approach also allows for energy-efficient construction methods, which strengthens their contribution to sustainability.
Now that Austin Street Partners has been selected, negotiations will begin. A group of City officials, including the City’s Economic Development Director, City Administrative Officer, City Solicitor, Director of Planning and Development, and Chief Financial Officer will meet with Austin Street Partners to negotiate terms of a Land Disposition Agreement. During this time, Austin Street Partners will meet with the community to hear about its interests and concerns. The principles that will guide these discussions include the City’s commitment to ensure the project will:
o Provide a focal point and welcoming gathering place for village activities;
o Provide positive benefits for the City, such as additional housing, activities, services, and patronage for existing businesses;
o Achieve site development objectives in a manner that is financially feasible and fiscally responsible; and
o Include opportunities for public participation throughout the process.
Once negotiations conclude, preparations for the special permit will start with additional community meetings to shape the project design. Reviews by several advisory groups will take place alongside staff evaluations prior to being considered by the Land Use Committee of the Board of Aldermen. Public input will be solicited throughout this time. With community engagement, I expect the resulting project to be an attractive place where people can gather, businesses can thrive, traffic flow and parking are improved, and a village feel is maintained.
In closing, I want to extend my congratulations to Austin Street Partners and commend all the teams who submitted responses to the City’s Request for Proposals for their interest and for taking the time to explore the potential of this site. We look forward to working with this talented team and to a collaborative community dialogue as we move forward.