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Waltham councillors approve Moody Street condos, commercial space

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  August 6, 2013 05:40 PM

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Nearly three years after plans were originally submitted, Waltham councillors have granted a special permit to developers proposing to build 16 luxury condominiums and space for shops and restaurants at 200 Moody St., where vacant storefronts have sat for several years.

The project was proposed in late 2010 by 200 Moody St. LLC - started by Arthur Nelson of The Nelson Companies in Waltham.

But the property has a city-owned easement running through it and discussions over what to do about the easement bogged down the project.

"It got into a back-and-forth with the mayor and the council and the developer," city Councilor Robert Logan.said. "The mayor suggested the easement should be sent out in a request for proposals because it was an interest in real property the city had, and it had a theoretical value. But when the RFP came back, the petitioner was the only bidder."

McCarthy then did not reward the bid, asking the council to vote first on the special permit, which is not the usual process, Logan said.

"If we vote on the special permit first, we will all have to file ethics disclosure forms saying we can still vote on easement," Logan said. "It makes it complicated, but we said fine, because we need to get this moving."

Logan said minor zoning issues also held the proposal up.

"We needed a variance to clear up a few technical issues," he said.

McCarthy said she was waiting for the council to finish the permit approval before taking any action on the easement.

"Since the special permit issue was resolved, now we can proceed to the easement," she said over the phone Tuesday, noting that she will now negotiate with developers on an undisclosed price for the easement.

McCarthy said she hoped negotiations would be finalized by the end of August at the latest.

"I don’t know how long it will take, but I don’t intend to delay it," she said. "I think the project overall is good for the downtown. I think they’ll get going as soon as possible."

The developers could not be reached Tuesday. However, previous plans show a four-story building of about 30,000 square feet, with commercial space on the bottom and condo units on the top three floors.

According to land records, the property was sold to 200 Moody St. LLC in July 2010 for $1.6 million. It used to house a toy store, a barbecue restaurant, and a florist, but the storefronts have now been vacant for several years, Logan said.

"We wanted to get this project done because it's so important to downtown," he said. "This is huge. We haven't had any significant development on Moody Street since Cronin's Landing across the street."

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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