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Waltham councilors approve huge mixed-use downtown project

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  October 17, 2013 10:00 AM

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Northland Investment Corp.

After councilors approved the 1 Moody St. project Wednesday, developers will start construction within the next few months, aiming to finish in the next two and a half years.

Downtown Waltham is about to get a lot busier.

Waltham councilors unanimously -- and eagerly -- approved a special permit Wednesday allowing developers to demolish four mostly vacant buildings at Moody and Main streets and build three, five-story buildings with 269 residences, 392 parking spaces, and ground-level retail space.

Developers from Newton-based Northland Investment Corp. will demolish 702 Main St., 716 Main St., 1 Moody St., and 55 Moody St. to build the three new buildings containing 340,000 square feet.

After the meeting, developers said they hope to break ground within the next few months, and complete construction within 2 1/2 years.

The buildings previously held only commercial tenants, but now vacant except for Sovereign Bank at 1 Moody St. and Citizens Bank at 716 Main St. Demolition is planned to be done in stages to accommodate the banks, which will both be invited to set up shop in the new development's retail space once.

Councilors said Wednesday that they are happy to see the outdated buildings go.

"The Sovereign Bank building, as beautiful as maybe it once was, has outlived its design and function," said Councilor Gary Marchese. "You will not recognize these two blocks of the city in the next three years. It will be an amazing development and I'm proud to be a part of it."

"This is an absolutely sterling example of smart growth," Councilor Robert Logan said at Wednesday's meeting. "This will mean so much to our downtown. It will be a catalyst for improvement up and down Moody and Main streets."

The Wednesday approval for the behemoth project is just one move in a recent push to revitalize the downtown. In August, councilors passed a $1.47 million initiative, pushed by Mayor Jeannette McCarthy, to build sidewalks and replant 75 trees down the whole swath of Moody Street, in the hopes of attracting more foot traffic and business interest.

Councilors on Wednesday also discussed relaxing zoning bylaws to allow certain fast food establishments, such as upscale cafes and bakeries, to open downtown. Those proposals will be reviewed by the Planning Board and Ordinance and Rules Committee before coming back before the council for a vote.
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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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