Beat Report: 12/12/13 Somerville Redevelopment Authority Meeting
Busnach, McCarthy, Gage, city staff
Bottom Line on Top
City not getting cooperation from casino developer (WIN) and may have to apply itself for designation as affected community in 10 days after WIN files 12/31/13. Partners Healthcare is coming with 4500 jobs and 700K s.f. of office space. Aggressive schedule (2016). No R&D yet. City wants to look at rest of site (>60 acres). FRIT has gone live with a jobs web site with all the jobs in Assembly Row. They are being very cooperative. The City is contracting with a local agency for job training. City has an RFQ for a Master Developer for Union Square. Response is due Jan. 31, hope to decide by April 1.
Approval of minutes by voice vote
Assembly Square Update
C-street easement must accommodate switch equipment. Going to BOA tonight.
Significant info. City correspondence to WIN team and back to City. Dealings with WIN have been frustrating. WIN refuses to provide funding for independent study of impacts of casino. Unwilling to say whether he is going to identify Somerville as surrounding community. Certainly meets basic criteria: shared border, geographic commuting district, transportation infrastructure to be adversely impacted. Economic, traffic, many more issues. Met with gaming commission this afternoon. Have 10 days to protest not being designated.
Went to environmental and transportation briefing Dec 2. Much of info they said they’d include wasn’t there. East Boston proposal will get application too.
City will file for designation. WIN has to file by Dec 31. We have to file within 10 days of not being designated.
Don’t know what Medford has done.
Congrats! Victory has 100 fathers. Discussed for months. Met with them 3 weeks ago. Announced publicly ast week. Hope to be a multiphase project. Develop 700K s.f. of operational administration. No R&D yet. FRIT to build and manage first 2 floors as taxable retail. Very aggressive schedule. 2016 Planning Board approval required. Interviewing architects and engineers.
When Mass General went into Charlestown Navy Yard, their lease requirement increased. Buildings about the original building were taken over.
Project labor agreement under negotiation. 30K s.f. building [Comment: Missed what this referred to.] Planned building is on IKEA site and Yard 21. Hope we will go back to a major plan change. Want to look at rest of site (> 60 acres).
Expect to get same benefits as we would from IKEA. Although Partners owns the building and they are tax exempt, they will contribute to city for expenses. There is no residential component. It is Partners back-office space. Moving from Charlestown. Relocating 4500 existing jobs. Hope there are opportunities for Somerville. Will be shuttle between Sullivan and Navy Yard.
Will Mayor Menino’s objections hold?
Local Hiring Efforts
FRIT has gone live with web site to make available all A.S. jobs. Can indicate type of job, A.S. has a ton of jobs. Legoland is the first employer. All A.S. restaurants are being contacted. Reception was good. We have a well-qualified workforce. The City can’t mandate anything, but we are contracting with a local agency for training. FRIT very helpful on hiring end of things. Will run job fairs, make availability known on site and on SCAT.
We will do the same with Partners.
Take vote on Block D-2 out of order. There are DEP actions on the site. DEP is sending action notices to the former owners. We own the sites. We will need to do environmental filings. Vote to empower Nancy and an alternative to be allowed to sign filings on SRA-owned properties.
Union Square RFQ
The RFQ is for a master developer for Union Square. This is the next step in implementing the rezoning and the SomerVision plan. We are looking for a well-financed, experienced master developer. We will need significant upgrades to infrastructure. We will appoint a civic advisory committee to do 2 years of meetings. Response is due January 31. Want to narrow down list by 1st of April.
We are very concerned about the stakeholders. We need to retain the sense of place that makes Union Square great. We made the decision to go with a master developer because of the infrastructure needs. We were getting proposals inconsistent with the SomerVision plan. One wanted to buy the Post Office and turn it into a Walgreens. Others wanted first-floor retail, curb-side parking, lots of curb cuts.
Nancy: A master developer worked in Assembly Square. It worked in Boynton Yards.
Q: Was eminent domain used in Assembly Square?
Nancy: We were allowed to do this, but we did not actually use it. The developer bought the sites itself.
[Comment: What was the Central Steel lawsuit about?]
No further discussion. Other business: setting a new meeting date.
Thursday Jan 23 @5:30
Tentatively set aside Feb. 20, maybe earlier or later. SRA may wish to attend the presentations by the finalist developers.