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Cushing Village moving forward; developer will not pull application

Posted by Evan Allen  September 11, 2012 01:38 PM

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A plan for luxury apartments and retail space in the heart of Cushing Square in Belmont will move forward again after hitting a wall this summer when its developer threatened to withdraw his application for the project because of restrictions made by the town on its size.

Discussion of the project ground to a halt in July, when developer Chris Starr of Smith Legacy Partners threatened to pull his application for Cushing Village and replace it with affordable housing after the Planning Board said it likely wouldn’t grant a special permit for a fourth story to be added to a building.

But in a letter sent to the Belmont Planning Board dated Sept. 10, an attorney for Smith Legacy Partners said that the developers are willing to accept limitations on size, scale and mass, and are eager to get the project moving again.

“We’re very excited, and very pleased to try to get this thing moving forward, and move it toward approval in the fall of 2012,” said attorney Mark Donahue, who wrote the letter, in a phone interview. If all goes well, he said, the project could break ground in the spring of 2013.

Cushing Village, first proposed in 2008, would bring a mix of apartment complexes and retail space to Common Street between Trapelo Road and Belmont Street. The project has faced persistent opposition from residents worried that it would be out of scale with the rest of the neighborhood. Developers have scaled it down several times, but have so far been unable to reach consensus.

The Sept. 10 letter, however, sounds an optimistic note about the project’s future.

“[Smith Legacy Partners] remains steadfast in its belief that Cushing Village constitutes the best possible development for the Cushing Square area and, despite the reductions in [size, scale and mass], to craft a development that is both feasible and mutually beneficial to SLP and the Town,” the letter reads.

The letter outlines the scale of the project with the town’s size restrictions. Cushing Village will have between 113 and 118 apartment units, with between 65 and 70 of those being two-bedroom units and the remaining units being one bedroom units. It will also contain about 37,500 square feet of retail space.

The Planning Board will meet on Tuesday night to continue the town’s public hearing on Cushing Village.

Chair Sami Baghdady said that he is looking forward to continuing the discussion.

“By all accounts, the process is going in a positive direction,” he said.

Tuesday night’s meeting will be held in the Beech Street Center at 7 p.m.

To read the whole letter, click here: Planning Board - Cushing Village - Applicant's Letter dated September 10, 2012.pdf

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com

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