“Sadly, this could have been avoided if we valued public transportation as much as we have our cars, highways, and tunnels,” Leung adds.
Walls came down at Marshall's Plaza, our former HQ
The small but mighty brick building on Needham Street that had been home to our chamber for at least two decades (as well as AAA and, long ago, a Strawberries record store) came tumbling down yesterday.
Also flattened was the former Marshalls store on the other side of the parking lot that served shoppers since the late 70s, along with the rest of the old Marshalls Plaza.
It's all happening to make way for the Northland Newton development, featuring 200,000 SF of office space, 100,000 SF of restaurants and retail and 800 apartments.
Construction is expected to begin by the end of the year, with the first buildings coming online in 2024.
(That's me with, from left, our former chamber teammate Tiffany Chen plus Lise Elcock and Katherine Herer in the top photo.)
Restaurant funds stuck in legal limbo
The Small Business Administration says it plans to disburse the $180 million it's holding in remaining Restaurant Revitalization Fund money — but not until the agency has resolved any pending litigation related to the program.
And that can take years.
“Federal litigation is not something that is particularly cut and dry in the modern era, and it could take years,” National Restaurant Association EVP Sean Kennedy tells Andy Medici for the BBJ.
“$180M is not a lot to most in Washington D.C., but it could absolutely be the lifeline that keeps a lot of restaurants open across the country,” he adds.
The RFF provided much-needed grants to over 101,000 restaurant owners last year. But 177,000 applicants (including many in our communities) qualified yet never received their check before the federal program ran dry.
Newton's proposed fossil fuel ban hinges on housing
Among the bills awaiting action from Gov. Charlie Baker is a sweeping climate bill that invests in offshore wind, expands rebates and incentives for electric vehicles and charging stations and many other things.
Of local interest, the proposal also allows Newton and nine other communities to ban fossil fuel hookups in new commercial and residential construction and substantial renovations.
Health care facilities and science labs would be exempt from the pilot, while lawmakers rejected calls by Baker to also exclude multifamily housing.
Still, Newton may never get a chance to participate unless it meets the state’s 40B affordable housing target (something the city has failed to do since the law was created in 1969). Alternatively, the city would qualify if it undergoes zoning changes to comply with the new MBTA Communities Law, which could conceivably be addressed through the city’s zoning review process. It will be interesting to see if Newton's City Council, which unanimously approved electrification, rises to the challenge.
Virtually every property owner and employer I speak with understands the urgent need to move away from fossil fuels.
But they, appropriately, worry about whether or not our electric distribution system can meet the growing demand -- something we’re already experiencing this week as utility companies urge users to curb use.
“The networks of wires and substations that bring electricity to homes and businesses are already stressed as housing density increases, experts say, and many parts of them will likely need upgrading or expanding in a future when demand could double or even triple as the state relies ever more on clean electricity to replace fossil fuel power,” she writes.
Other Need to Knows
A reminder that sales tax holiday weekend is happening next Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 13, 14). Retail items of up to $2,500, purchased in Massachusetts for personal use on these two days are exempt from sales tax. FAQs here.
Two marquee United States Golf Association events -- the 2024 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur Championship and the 2028 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship -- are coming to Brae Burn Country Club in Waban. Brae Burn hosted the U.S. Open in 1919 and last hosted a major USGA event in 1997 when the U.S. Women's Amateur was held there. (Newton Patch)
One of my family's favorites, the Landing Pizza & Kitchen - L'Approdo in Nonantum has closed. Owner Massimo Ottani is moving back to Italy, according to a Facebook post. The Landing first opened in early 2019. (Boston Restaurant Talk)
Your business may be eligible to apply for a Workplace Safety Training Grant application of up to $25k. The grant program promotes safe and healthy conditions in the workplace through training, education, and other preventative programs. FAQs here.
Middle-income individuals and households who make too much money to qualify for coverage from MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, but are still struggling to afford the cost of private health plans may benefit from a two year pilot program just approved by lawmakers, reports Christian M. Wade at the Salem News.
Starting in June 2023, individuals and families earning up to 500% of the federal poverty level, or about $139,000 for a family of four will be eligible to participate in for ConnectorCare, the state’s subsidized health insurance program.
That’s up from current cutoff of 300% of the poverty level.
Yes, Virginia, consumers are ‘price sensitive’ when you don't provide a product worth buying
Just three months ago -- about the time Gannett pulled the plug on local news in dozen of communities – the Virginia-based media company said it expected to end the year $50 million to $70 million in the black.
But during an earnings call yesterday, Gannett said it was on track to lose up to $70 million this year due to inflation, distribution labor shortages and “price sensitive consumers,” reports Don Seiffert at the BBJ.
Auchincloss meets with downtown Wellesley businesses
Our thanks to Rep. Jake Auchincloss for joining the chamber and the town’s assistant executive director Amy Frigulietti on a walking tour of the Wellesley Square Tuesday to learn about the changing business landscape, challenges emerging from the pandemic and, yes, parking.