And it’s been less than five years since the companies started what’s become a head-turning retail transformation which will ultimately feature 50 carefully curated retail and restaurants, a hotel, plus 432,000 sf lab/office space, and over 300 residences.
But it wasn’t just a tired old mall that's been transformed.
It's been Watertown’s entire East End. Really, Watertown itself.
Arsenal Yards' redevelopment provided the amenities that enticed life science companies to set up shop in Watertown and, in turn, has generated millions in new tax revenue allowing for significant public investment in new schools, a fully funded pension plan, and other improvements.
It's an achievement and a destination worthy of an exclamation point.
Next Tuesday the Arsenal team will go before the City Council to seek approval of a simple but elegant sign on top of 100 Forge, a nine-story life sciences building now under construction that will become the city’s tallest building.
The proposed sign would face southward and be visible from the Mass Pike, Brighton, and Newton (but not any Watertown residences). It would only be illuminated in the evening hours (and turned off overnight).
Most significantly, its presence will serve as a placemaker for the entire Arsenal Street Corridor, not just Arsenal Yards, and as a gateway to Watertown, helping promote the retailers and restaurants across the entire East End and the entire community.
What? You've never been?
If you haven’t been to Arsenal Yards yet, or in a while, you’ll have a chance to sample menus from ten of their restaurant tenants, tomorrow (Weds.) at the first ever Stick a Fork in It Food Fest.
?Proceeds benefit the Greater Boston Food Bank.
Tree cutting moratorium could freeze large and small developments
Newton homeowners, builders, commercial property owners, and developers will want to pay close attention to a discussion beginning before a City Council committee tomorrow to update the city’s tree ordinance. There are two competing proposals; one from Mayor Ruthanne Fuller and the other from City Councilors Julia Malakie and Emily Norton.
They vary in significant ways but both increase replacement requirements for the removal of larger diameter trees and regulate the removal of smaller trees. Fees would increase too, particularly under the councilors’ proposal.
Newton’s tree ordinance hasn’t been updated since 2014. And trees play a pivotal role in protecting our planet and quality of life. So, it makes sense to engage all stakeholders in a thoughtful process.
But one thing the city should not do is impose a one-year moratorium on cutting down mature trees on private property, as some counselors are proposing.
The proposed moratorium could bring any number of planned or future projects -- large and small, public or private -- to a halt. It could also impede the city's ability to address our housing needs and economic vibrancy. (And it’s worth noting that the two councilors leading the charge frequently oppose those very things.)
Both Mayor Fuller and the city’s tree warden oppose a mortarium.
Fifty days and still nothing
It's now been 50 days since our Legislature adjourned for vacation without completing the Economic Development bill.
Why is this ballot different from all other ballots?
In addition to contests for governor, attorney general, auditor, and other contests, Massachusetts voters will be asked to weigh in on four questions this November.
Question 1: So, called Millionaires or Fair Share tax. Creates a 4% tax on incomes that exceed $1 million for education and transportation purposes. (The chamber will host a forum on this question on Oct. 12 Register).
Question 2: Establishes a medical loss ratio for dental plans at 83% and requires the insurer to refund the excess premium to its covered individuals and covered groups.
Question 3: Changes the number of retail alcohol licenses per establishment granted incrementally from no more than 12 in 2023 to no more than 18 by 2031 and prohibits in-store automated and self-checkout sales of alcohol
Question 4: Would overturn the recently enacted law that removes proof of citizenship or immigration status to obtain a driver's license?
You'll find information and explanations at the links above.
Other need to knows
After 21 years Conley's Pub & Grille in Watertown has closed but is expected to reopen under new owners with the same name, concept, and staff. (Boston Restaurant Talk)
Intelerad Medical Systems, with headquarters in North Carolina and Montreal, has acquired Newton Corner-based Life Image, a medical evidence, and image exchange network. (BBJ)
The Battle of the Biotech Bands is back for its 8th annual event. If you work at biotech and have, or are ready to start a band, here’s how you plug in.
Needham Council for Arts and Culture is accepting applications to support artistic and cultural activities - including performances, exhibits, short-term artist residencies, workshops, lectures, and organizational support. Click here for the application instructions. Email.
Watertown is hosting an interactive workshop tonight (Sept. 30) at the Middle School to continue developing the city’s next comprehensive plan. There's another session on Sept 29.Details.
Wellesley’s next virtual Building Energy Roundtable is happening on Sept. 28 at 10:30 a.m. Learn about rebates for energy-saving investments from National Grid and MassSave; federal energy-saving opportunities for commercial properties, and review new state legislation on energy reporting requirements for buildings 20,000 SF and up. RSVP
The City of Newton is collecting input on a set of proposed zoning updates for its village centers. Provide input using this cool feedback tool; explore an in-person exhibit now on view at the Newton Free Library. Learn more.
Those Orange Line shuttle buses are headed our way
We’ve all been preconditioned to expect infrastructure projects to miss deadlines.
That’s why it was disappointing but not wasn’t particularly surprising, to learn the other day that the Needham Street/Highland Ave project is a year behind schedule.
Here’s hoping the same thing happens when the shuttle buses redeploy to Newton and Brookline as the Riverside D line shuts down for three nine-day periods beginning Saturday (Sept. 24) and continuing on a rolling basis through Oct. 30.
During the operation, the parking lots at Waban and Eliot stations will be closed.
Meet the newest, hot, fringe benefit
Finally, this morning, some employers are turning to a new job benefit in their quest to lure new employees: telling candidates they're expected to take accrued time off, put work devices away after hours, and not be shy about asking for a mental-health day.
“…Employers are pledging to respect work-life boundaries in their job listings, and some managers say they make it a priority to discuss work-life balance during the early stages of the recruiting process,” writes Lindsay Ellis for the Wall Street Journal.
P.S. After a two-year absence, our annual Fall Business Breakfast -- our region's annual largest gathering of business and civic leaders -- is returning to the Newton Marriott on Friday, Oct. 28 from 7:30-9:30 a.m. Tickets are on sale on our website starting at 11 a.m. today.