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Quincy redevelopment plan reaches a milestone with signing

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  January 26, 2011 10:14 AM

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signing of Quincy center revitalization

Street-Works Development LLC Managing Partner Ken Narva (Left) and Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch (right) sign off on the city center revitalization agreement between the two companies.

Quincy officials and Street-Works Development LLC took a moment from working behind the scenes to officially sign the redevelopment agreement for the $1.28 billion proposal that will dramatically reshape the heart of the City of Presidents.

The landmark signing occurred before city and Street-Works staff as Mayor Thomas Koch and Street-Works Managing Partner Ken Narva put pens to the dotted line, setting in motion a project that is expected to create 10,000 jobs and develop the mixed-use downtown throughout the next 10 years.

“We’ve talked about the jobs, the real estate values, the taxes, all of those positives events will occur as we go through this project. But it didn’t just happen,” Koch said. “This couldn’t have happened without the team we put together on the city side, and it certainly couldn’t have happened without the people we met at the table.”

Apart from the signing, however, both sides have been busy at work preparing the documentation and necessary steps to make the theoretical revitalization into a tangible reality.

For Koch, the next step will be to procure $50 million of grants for infrastructure improvements as well have the state Legislature pass a home rule petition, a statute that would enable structures within the development to forgo property taxes as part of the 121A mechanism developed by the state.

Although the city has yet to see any development with grants since the City Council’s unanimous approval of the development in late December, Koch isn’t concerned.

According to Koch, the city has already had conversation with key legislators, including US Senator John Kerry and US Representative William Keating, about federal funding for the project.

Additionally, Street-Works has hired a lobbyist on behalf of the project, and Quincy will hire a consultant to help the city make its way through the grant process.

“We know in these times in Washington, particularly when there are no earmarks, we need to really back into grant programs – existing programs that federal agencies sponsor. And I think we’ll be successful,” Koch said.

And although $50 million may sound like a lot to ask for in grants, at the end of the day, it’s not much, Koch said. Not, at least, compared with the $1 billion in private investment and the $227 million from the municipality.

Yet funding isn’t the only thing on the city’s mind. The other active process Koch has begun is in obtaining the home rule petition, which Koch hand-delivered to the State House last week.

The bill will have to be filed by Quincy members of Legislature and move through a committee process through the House and Senate, eventually to be signed off on by Governor Deval Patrick.

Despite the hurdles, Koch said the enthusiasm he has heard from the Legislature is encouraging.

“We have met with our state representatives for the past two years … so this isn’t new to them. They understand it, they understand what their role is, their charge is, and I’m confident that they will be able to pull that together for us,” Koch said.

Meanwhile, Street-Works has wasted no time in procuring deals with retailers and businesses to create a concrete plan for downtown.

“We’ve been meeting with residential partners, retailers – we’ve had about 20 or 30 meetings, almost non-stop, and are gearing up for another 20 meetings in the next 30 days,” said Street-Works partner Richard Heapes. “So we’ve had tremendous feedback.”

Still, both sides acknowledge that there is still a lot to be done.

“It feels good. But I also know the task ahead,” Koch said. “It’s a huge milestone, but in many ways, it’s just the beginning.”

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