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Watertown hearing on 7-story hotel near Arsenal Mall slated for Feb. 11

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  January 27, 2014 02:33 PM

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Watertown Town Councilors will hold a public hearing next month on amending a zoning ordinance that would allow a seven-story hotel to be built on the former Charles River Saab site near the Arsenal Mall.

The public hearing will take place Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 7:15 p.m. at Town Hall.

Planning Board chairman John Hawes Jr. told the Globe in December that he thinks the Arsenal Street corridor will be the next section of Watertown to see major changes, especially as Athenahealth Inc. and Boston developer Boylston Properties announced last summer that they would buy the Arsenal Mall and two nearby properties.

Boylston Properties, best known for its redevelopment projects in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood, bought the property across from the Arsenal Mall that housed the former Charles River Saab dealership, where it hopes to build a hotel.

The Boston developer has teamed up with athenahealth Inc. chief executive Jonathan Bush and Wilder Cos. to purchase the 225,000-square-foot Arsenal Mall and other parcels. They plan to transform them from “a black hole,” in Bush’s words, into “a cool place to live and play,” with loft apartments, hip restaurants, and boutiques catering to entrepreneurs and technology whiz kids at nearby companies, he previously told the Globe.

The hotel variance hearing also comes as Watertown planners are reviewing a proposed development for Arsenal Street that would add 300 residential units and 37,100 square feet of retail and restaurant space to the area.

Developers from the Hanover Co. submitted a plan late last year to raze a vacant industrial building and other offices at 202-204 Arsenal St. and 58 Irving St. to make way for the mixed-use complex, said Watertown planning director Steve Magoon.

The commercial space would likely house shops, at least one restaurant, and possibly a grocery store, Magoon said. The site plan is being reviewed by town planners, and a formal proposal will be presented to the Planning Board this spring, he said.

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

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