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5/16/13 Joint Public Hearing of Planning Board and Land Use Committee

by in All Ages, Assembly Square, Beat Reporter, Comprehensive Plan, Development and Zoning, Events, Green Line, Housing, Union Square
Posted on May 6, 2013 at 7:59 pm
Last Modified on May 13, 2013 at 8:47 pm

The key issue is allowing a larger supermarket in Assembly Square at a location that should be dedicated to high-rise office and R&D space.More…

[Note: This is a syndicated post. Read the original at Somerville Development Forum.]

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One Response to “5/16/13 Joint Public Hearing of Planning Board and Land Use Committee”

  1. E-mail to Planning Board and Land Use Committee

    May 16, 2013

    Memo to:

    George Proakis, Director of Planning, City of Somerville
    Tom Taylor, Chair, Land Use Committee, City of Somerville

    From:

    David Dahlbacka
    25 Hancock Street
    Somerville MA 02144

    Re: Proposed ordinance amending Somerville zoning 6.4.8.D(2)(b) to permit a supermarket that exceeds the Assembly Square ground level retail size cap.

    This note is to express my opposition to the proposed zoning change. The proposed supermarket is a one-story, 130,000 s.f. structure about a block away from the Assembly Square Orange Line T-Stop, now under construction. Because of the new T-stop, this is prime real estate, an ideal location for high-rise office and R&D development. Locking it down with a one-story supermarket is a wasted opportunity.

    The facts are these:

    * The city has committed $50 M in future property tax revenues to pay for Assembly Square infrastructure. The Commonwealth has committed $58 M of iCubed funding in the expectation of future income and sales tax revenues.

    * The city has committed to a Comprehensive Plan that designates Assembly Square as a transformational area, a high-density economic engine for Somerville.

    * Fully developed with high-rise office and R&D, the site could bring 15,000 permanent jobs and $33,000,000 in annual property tax revenue.

    * Developed with a one-story 130,000 s.f. supermarket, the site would bring only 200 permanent jobs and $320,000 in annual property tax revenue — one one-hundredth the benefit to Somerville.

    The arguments in favor of the zoning change boil down to fear that if Federal Realty does not buy the IKEA site right now, it will never be developed. This scenario makes no business sense. The site is within easy walking distance of the new Assembly Square T-Stop. Interest rates are low. Federal Realty is only one of many major developers in the Boston area. Once the T-Stop opens, other developers will be eager to take advantage of low interest rates to develop office and R&D there.

    True, Assembly Square could use a supermarket. However, to preserve the site’s potential, such a supermarket should only be allowed on the first floor of a high-rise office/R&D development.

    Support the Comprehensive Plan. How credible is the Plan if we abandon it the first time someone wants to bypass it?

    Thank you for your attention.

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