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Formal agreement requires funding of community-driven planning process, creation of community benefits agreements


SOMERVILLE -A community-driven master planning process for Union Square and Boynton Yards and the creation of a community benefits agreement that will result from new development are among the requirements of a signed formal agreement between the Somerville Redevelopment Authority (SRA) and Union Square Station Associates (US2). Additional items in the agreement include coordination with the MBTA on new private development alongside the Green Line Station and valuation and disposition terms for all seven development blocks.

The Master Development Designation Agreement formalizes the June 2014 vote by the SRA to select US2 as the Union Square master developer partner. This Agreement creates the framework that will be used to pursue the vision for Union Square set forth in the state-approved Union Square Revitalization Plan and SomerVision, the City's 20-year comprehensive plan.

"If we are going to achieve the community's goals and vision for Union Square, and manage the change that is coming to Union Square with the opening of the Green Line station our community pursued for decades, the community must continue to be a part of the planning for the square's future," said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. "I am glad that the SRA and US2 have come to an agreement that requires a community-driven planning process, the negotiation of community benefit agreements, and keeps us on schedule to coordinate development with the opening of the Green Line station."

"We are thrilled to finalize our Master Development Agreement with the City," said US2 Development Director Greg Karczweski. "This agreement is reflective of our shared commitment to develop Union Square in a manner that promotes the community values and goals outlined in SomerVision. Having met this important and necessary milestone, we can now look forward to participating in an inclusive community planning process that will help design the future of Union Square."

Information gathered by US2 during its 100 days of community engagement that followed the Union Square kickoff event in August will be used by City staff, US2 and City consultants to shape a community planning process based on the City's Somerville by Design process. That process, scheduled to commence on Dec. 17, will include public workshops, public design charrettes and community review in multiple languages, and will ultimately create a neighborhood plan for the square's seven redevelopment blocks. US2 will fully fund the cost of that neighborhood planning process, with the goal of completing that process by June 30, 2015. In addition, the agreement requires US2 to pay for any outside legal services required by the SRA in advancing and implementing this neighborhood plan.

All planning events will be held at the historic Union Square Post Office at 237 Washington Street. Detailed information is available at Dates include:

  • Dec. 17, 2014 (Crowdsourcing Workshop)
  • Jan. 7 and 31, 2015 (Visioning Workshops)
  • Feb. 4, 11, 18 and 25, 2015 (Technical Workshops)
  • March 9, 10, 11, 2015 (3-Day Design Charrette)
  • May 13, 2015 (Plan Open House Event)

Building upon the neighborhood plan, the SRA and US2, with input from the Union Square Civic Advisory Committee (CAC), will develop the terms of a master land disposition agreement that will reflect the vision that emerges from the community planning process. The disposition agreement will provide a general outline of what will be built on each development block-office, retail and other commercial uses, along with residential-based on the goals in the community-developed Union Square Revitalization Plan.

Individual land agreements that detail the timing and nature of development on specific parcels would follow, also with input from the CAC, and require approval by both the Somerville Planning Board and the state Department of Housing and Community Development. The goal is for US2 to work with each individual parcel owner, whether the SRA or private owners, to either acquire or partner with the owner of each parcel within the development blocks.

Because the MBTA Union Square Green Line Station is scheduled to open in December 2017, the neighborhood plan process will begin with the D-2 and D-3 blocks around the existing tracks and where the new Green Line station will be built. That will allow the SRA, City, MBTA and US2 to work on an expedited plan for redevelopment of those blocks. The D-2 and D-3 plan will be submitted before completion of the entire neighborhood plan on June 30, 2015, in order to coordinate with the construction and opening of the Green Line Station.

Once either a master land disposition agreement or land agreements for the D-2 and D-3 blocks are finalized, the formal agreement will require US2 to negotiate with the City, with input from the CAC, on a community benefits agreement that is expected to address: affordable housing; workforce development; local hiring; supporting independent local businesses; sustainability in building design and site developments; public space improvements; and other community goals and values set forth in SomerVision.

In December 2013, the SRA issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a master developer partner that will work with the City, SRA, CAC, current property owners and community members to design and implement the redevelopment of the seven development blocks identified in the state-approved Union Square Revitalization Plan. The SRA unanimously voted to select US2 as the master developer partner at the SRA's meeting on Thursday, June 26.


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