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Four community meetings planned on Tufts University's redevelopment of the Powderhouse Community School

Posted by boston.com  December 24, 2013 10:00 AM

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The following was submitted by the City of Somerville:

Beginning in January, the public will continue to help shape the future of the Powder House Community School site through four public meetings on the recommended plans for redevelopment of the site submitted by Tufts University.

In September, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone announced that he had accepted the Powderhouse Community School Technical Advisory Committee’s final recommendations for redevelopment of the former K-8 public school site. The Committee recommended three of six proposals for consideration by the Mayor, with the proposal by Tufts University receiving the top recommendation.

The proposal submitted by Tufts combines the former school and Tufts Administration Building (TAB) sites into a larger parcel that would face both Holland St. and Broadway. The complex would include upgrades to the existing TAB building, the construction of an administrative building with underground parking on the site of the former school, a third building on the former school site with either office or unaffiliated residential units (both affordable and market rate available to the public), and the largest contiguous public green space of any of the proposals. Of the submitted proposals, only Tufts’ proposal would add significant office space, which is expected to increase daytime foot traffic for Teele Square businesses. It also creates significantly more open space than other proposals in addition to an expansion of current open space. Finally, it would maintain a building size that is consistent with a collaborative vision developed by community members including abutters over the last three years. The University has also expressed a commitment to paying full property taxes on buildings they plan to develop. 

The community vision process, jointly hosted by the City of Somerville and Tufts University, begins on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014 with a charrette (a collaborative design session) where residents and community members will work with City planners and Tufts officials to sketch out the vision for the site. This will be followed by a community meeting on Monday, Feb. 10, a charrette follow-up on Wednesday, March 5, and a wrap-up meeting on Wednesday, March 26.

“I want to thank the many residents who helped us determine the highest and best use for this site and envision how it could enhance the neighborhood, and I hope the those already involved as well as newcomers will join us for the coming meetings to help shape the final plan,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “Tufts’ proposal will not only expand public open space and generate new tax revenues for the city, it will bring daytime activity to Teele Square, which is good for local businesses and will add vibrancy to the neighborhood. All of these benefits are consistent with the goals that the community charged us with in SomerVision. Through these meetings, we will continue to keep this project true to our community’s goals and ensure that it blends seamlessly with the neighborhood.”

Tufts University and the City signed an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) that sets the stage for the coming months of extensive public participation and feedback and for negotiation of a Land Disposition Agreement (LDA), which will set the details and requirements of the redevelopment. The Land Disposition Agreement requires a vote from the Board of Aldermen for approval. The City also plans to seek new zoning for the site that will be based on the community vision and the results of the public meetings and charrette sessions.

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