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Newton aldermen approve Riverside development off Route 128

Posted by Evan Allen  October 8, 2013 04:58 PM

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The Newton Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Monday night to approve a special permit for the Station at Riverside, one of the largest development projects the city has ever seen, said alderman and chair of the Land Use Committee Ted Hess-Mahan.

“It’s been three years of literally hundreds of hours of meetings with state, local, federal officials, and the developer, the community and the aldermen,” said Hess-Mahan. “This was a thoroughly vetted and very thoughtfully considered project…. The time we took on it, and the effort we put into it, was well worth it.”

The $350 million development planned for 11 acres of MBTA-owned land off Route 128 will include 290 new apartments, including 44 affordable units; a ten-story office building; a parking garage; retail space and a community center.

The board was originally slated to vote on the permit last week, but got hung up over an amendment proposed by alderman Leonard Gentile that would have required developer BH Normandy build the community center before the residential or office buildings could be occupied. Gentile said he was concerned that the community center would not get built in a timely manner; the developer said the amendment was a dealbreaker.

On Monday night, said Hess-Mahan and Stephen Buchbinder, an attorney for the developer, the two sides worked out a compromise. The community center must be finished within two years from the occupancy of either the office building or the residential building, and the developer will set aside $3 million in an escrow account as an added guarantee.

“We’re very happy,” said Buchbinder.

Next, said Hess-Mahan, there will be public meetings about the MBTA garage. Construction is tentatively scheduled to start on it next year, and the rest of the project is tentatively scheduled to begin July 2015. The project could be completed by July 2017.

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

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