Planning Board to continue discussing Federal Realty’s affordable housing waiver

This story was originally published in the Somerville Journal

Tensions were high at Thursday night’s Planning Board meeting, as Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT) again asked the board for an affordable housing waiver.

Multiple aldermen and dozens of community members stood up in the Aldermanic Chambers April 24, urging the Planning Board to deny the request. Though the board fully intended on voting on the waiver, they decided to continue the discussion and reconvene on May 18.

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“A seat at the table”: Union United urges US2 to meet and commit to formal CBA

This story was originally published in the Somerville Journal. 

Earlier this month, Union Square master developer Union Square Station Associates (US2) signed an agreement with the City of Somerville to contribute an estimated $112 million to the city.

The contributions include funds for the Green Line Extension, infrastructure upgrades, new open space, and an agreement to negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with community members via the Union Neighborhood Council.

Though community group Union United considers this a step in the right direction, they are pushing for more.

On Thursday, April 20, the group hosted a press conference outside the US2 offices at 31 Union Square, urging the developer to hold a formal meeting with the community and negotiate a CBA in good faith.

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Federal Realty seeks affordable housing waiver in Somerville’s Assembly Row

This story was originally published in the Somerville Journal. 

Assembly Row developers say an increase in the amount of affordable housing required by the city may cause a halt to their project, at least temporarily.

Last May the Somerville Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance requiring 20 percent of residential development to be affordable units, an increase from the previous 12 1/2 percent.

The ordinance stemmed from what aldermen call a citywide housing crisis, resulting in the displacement of many residents who can’t afford the rising rents and property values.

On April 6, Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT), developers in Assembly Square, formally asked the Planning Board to waive the current affordable housing ordinance and allow them to build at the 12 1/2 percent established when they started the project in 2005.

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A brief history of economic development in Somerville

This story was originally published in the Somerville Journal

With multiple development efforts in Davis Square, Union Square, and East Somerville, the city is on the edge of major changes.

Amidst those changes, President of the New England Chapter of the Victorian Society in America Edward Gordon took a look back at past efforts in Somerville.

Since being hired by the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission 12 years ago, Gordon has led multiple walking tours in East Somerville and Union Square, highlighting historic neighborhoods.

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Three East Somerville projects at a standstill

This story was originally published in the Somerville Journal. 

Amidst Somerville’s citywide zoning regulations and massive development efforts in areas such as Union Square and Davis Square, there are a few projects throughout the city that are still not yet underway.

Three of these projects consist of vacant pieces of land in East Somerville: the property across from Stop & Shop, Cobble Hill and Patsy’s Pies. Though some building permits have expired, the city does not own any of the pieces of land and is unable to start construction for any project.

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A brief history of redevelopment in Davis Square

This story was originally published in the Somerville Journal

For the past few years, Somerville’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development (OSPCD) have been working on plans to redevelop Union Square and Davis Square, both popular destinations in the city.

But Davis Square is no stranger to redevelopment efforts. Since the 1900s, Davis Square has undergone major transformations, especially with the Red Line Extension in the 1980s.

The OSPCD held the first of a series of meetings on Feb. 13 to discuss past redevelopment efforts and to survey a group of community members. Melissa Woods from the OSPCD said the surveys would help the team gather feedback in regards to what community members discuss from the city planning.

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