Economic headwinds – most notably rising construction and finance costs -- are indeed delaying Mark Development’s efforts to transform the Riverside MBTA station into a vibrant mixed-use development, the developer confirmed yesterday.
As I wrote last week, this project was originally conceived more than a decade ago and revived in 2018. If it weren't for all the community meetings, vision sessions, hearings, threatened lawsuits and other speed bumps the 13-acre project might have been ready, or nearly ready, for occupancy by now.
Instead, the same economic factors that have slowed developments across the region (as the BBJ and Globe reported recently) are slowing Riverside. That includes delaying two planned lab buildings as the life sciences market softens and hundreds of needed apartments adjacent to housing.
“While larger environmental factors have certainly impacted the start date for construction, we are confident that the merits of this project and the benefits it offers the Commonwealth as a transit-oriented development that creates new housing, economic opportunity and an improved public realm remain strong,” Mark CEO Robert Korff told Greg Ryan at the BBJ.
As discouraging as this is – and it is discouraging – this is still a well-conceived project. There isn’t a better transit-oriented developable site anywhere in Greater Boston and this project still has great upside for Newton and our region.
Meanwhile on the other side of the highway
It would be nice if Needham could learn a lesson from what’s happening in Newton and the Riverside project. Quickly.
But last night, the Needham Planning Board continued its slow deliberations of Bulfinch Companies' proposal for a lab project at the former Muzi Motors site without conclusion and with no acknowledgment that a lack of urgency might harm its viability and estimated $5 million annual net financial benefit to the town.
The Highland Innovation Center is very much aligned with the vision and goals which lead to Town Meeting’s overwhelming 168 to 37 approval more than a year ago to rezone this site. It's time for Planning to vote.
Separately, the board did agree last night to close the public hearing on a proposal by BTE Development to construct a new mixed-use building with retail on the first floor and 15 residential units on the second and third floors at 40 and 50 Central Ave., including the location of Panella’s Market.
Watertown ready for its close up
Marina Studios, a bustling film production soundstage and studio in Quincy, with a second location in Canton, is planning a third site in Watertown, the Globe’s Jon Chesto reports.
Marina is the only the only dedicated soundstage near Boston. It's already booked through 2026, thanks in part to the fact that Massachusetts has made its generous film tax credits permanent, according to Variety.
Operator Marina Cappi didn't disclose the Watertown location but has engaged architect Gensler to design her project, which would be a mix of renovation and new construction, to open it in 2024, Chesto adds.
Developers lineup to bid on 15-acre Newton site
? But wait, there's more real estate news: Nine developers have expressed interest in partnering with the City of Newton on developing a portion of 15 acres of largely-undeveloped land not far from Newton South High School, Fig City News reports.
The property is zoned for about 20 single-family housing. But its owners have offered the city a chance to purchase the land for $24 million with the hope it could be left, in part, as open space, used for schools, recreation, or other municipal uses, the Globe’s John Hilliard wrote last month.
Mayor Ruthanne Fuller gave developers until last week to submit ideas for the land and received responses from across the city, across the state, and one from Texas.
Fuller has established an eight-member committee to review the submissions. Ultimately any project would be subject to the usual review process.
EV rebates are now available
The expanded electric vehicle rebates included in this summer's new Massachusetts climate law are finally available, reports WBUR’s Miriam Wasser.
The program offers $3,500 if you purchase a new or used fully electric vehicle that costs under $55,000, plus $1,000 more if you turn in a gas-powered car with the purchase. An additional $1,500 is available for lower-income residents. (Eligible vehicles here.)
There’s also a $1,500 state rebate available for buyers of a new plug-in hybrid car that costs less than $50,000 that will be phased out this spring.
The revitalization of Wellesley Square continues: Clothing retailer Faherty is opening at the former Talbots at 50 Central St., adjacent to where Lululemon is opening. In addition, the new owners of E.A. Davis, Brian and Becky Voelkel will unveil their major renovation of the local landmark this week. Swellesley Reporthas all the details.
Watertown Community Foundation has appointed Athelia "Tia" A. Tilson as its next executive director. Tilson is currently VP of Development at the Home for Little Wanderers and previously worked at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Ariadne Labs, Pathfinder International, MIT, and the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review. Watertown News has more.
Several women-owned businesses, with missions to do good as part of their business models, are collaborating on “Goods That Do Good,” a self-guided holiday shopping event on Saturday, Dec. 10. Details.More from Patch.
Newton is expanding its NewMo ride-share system by adding to its fleet and service hours. NewMo provides rides from anywhere in Newton to anywhere in Newton for just two dollars. Learn more and participate in this survey. (The Heights)
Celebrate the holidays at the Linden Square Courtyard on Sunday (Dec. 11) 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Wellesley High School carolers, costumed characters, balloon twisters, and more will be present. Food for the Wellesley Food Pantry will also be collected on-site.
The Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network is offering free one-on-one 30 minutes sessions for small business owners to discuss general legal questions such as corporate structure, leases, contracts, insurance, employment, franchising, and various other business-related issues on Dec. 17. Details.
Thirty-eight-year-old, six-time champion, Eliud Kipchoge will make his Boston Marathon debut on April 17. He could be the first-ever world-record holder to also win the Boston Marathon. But he’ll be competing in a field that includes six former Boston champs.
In 2019 Kipchoge finished a marathon in under two hours, although those results aren't considered official. The Boston record is 2 hours 3 minutes and 2 seconds.
That’s your Need to Knows for today, unless you need to know how to stop yourself from texting something stupid after the company holiday party.
This a reminder that this newsletter is only possible because of the financial support from our members. If you're not a member and find our communications helpful, or interesting,please join today. We even have a special membership for non-business folks.