I know a lot has been written about Washington Place and the city has gone through an exhaustive public comment process. Adding to the list of support for this project is the Newton Economic Development Commission (of which I’m a member). The commission found a number of reasons to support this project, which are outlined below in the text of the letter submitted to the Land Use Committee.
Dear Councilor Laredo and Councilors of the Land Use Committee:
The Economic Development Commission is pleased to report that at its December 13, 2016 meeting, two resolutions were voted on in favor of Mark Newtonville LLC’s plan to develop a mixed-use development at the corner of Washington/Walnut Streets, also known as Washington Place.First, the EDC voted, 9-0, that the site is an appropriate location for the application of the recently created Mixed Use 4 (MU4) Zone. Second, the EDC voted, 9-0, that a special permit should be granted to allow this particular development to be built. The EDC’s support for the development of Washington Place is based on:
- Consistency with the Economic Development Goals and Strategies identified in Newton’s Comprehensive Plan (NCP), specifically Section IV.1 – Village Center Development: Encourage mixed use in the village centers by promoting housing above retail. Increasing density by allowing mixed use development in the village centers would increase the population within walking distance and as a result would likely expand the available range of goods and services offered there. It would also increase the stock of affordable housing located close to employment centers and public transportation.
- Redevelopment of a set of buildings into a cohesive mixed use development that will add vitality and potentially create a destination for consumers
- Significant community benefits including:
- Expanded sidewalks to enhance pedestrian experience
- Efficient redesign of the Walnut & Washington Street intersection, including a material reduction in crosswalk size and addition of bike lanes
- Creation of significant public space including 17,000+ SF of outdoor space and a community room
- The EDC also believes that the Washington Place project will bring additional tax revenue and deliver a met economic benefit to the City.
In conclusion, the EDC believes that the project represents a positive investment for our City.
Stephen Feller, Chairman
Newton Economic Development Commission