Draft Winter Hill Urban Renewal Plan Released for Public Comment

Plan proposes community-driven redevelopment of vacant Star Market lot and nearby properties

The City released a draft Winter Hill Urban Renewal Plan today, following a year of public meetings, online engagement, and community conversations about the future of the vacant Star Market site. The Plan proposes that the Somerville Redevelopment Authority (SRA) take a 2.8-acre area that includes the Star Market, Walgreens, and two buildings at the corner of Temple St and Broadway for the purpose of creating more green open space, affordable housing, and a mixed-use development. Community members are welcome to submit feedback on the draft to the SRA, who will vote on the approval of the plan no earlier than September. 

This Urban Renewal Plan is an important next step in implementing the Winter Hill Neighborhood Plan, which was adopted in 2016, and endeavors to incorporate more recent community feedback on key components like the project area boundaries along with the process for ensuring continued public involvement. In addition to the Commonwealth’s requirements for urban renewal plans, the Winter Hill Urban Renewal Plan also includes an equity analysis of how benefits and burdens for redevelopment may affect different populations and a detailed community process for the disposition of the largest portion of the site. 

“I want to thank the many Winter Hill community members that came together to shape the future of a key block in their community,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “They deserve better than crumbling buildings and empty parking lots. We have the opportunity to make this block the beating heart of this neighborhood once again while also offering a model for building a higher percentage of affordable housing and adding green space in an urban community. The people of Winter Hill have been clear they envision something better than the decay that’s taken place on that site, and this is their chance to make that vision a reality.” 

The Plan proposes turning the project area into three distinct projects. One vacant lot on Sewall St is proposed to become green open space, while another would become affordable housing. The remainder of the site, which includes the four buildings, would be subject to a community process detailed in the plan to determine an appropriate concept for the site and to assist in selecting a developer. As proposed, the plan would result in the displacement of two residences and four businesses, possibly as soon as 2024. These parties would all receive relocation benefits including financial support and site search assistance. The plan sets goals for creating at least 40 net new jobs, 200 new housing units (including at least 40 new affordable units), and 0.5 acres of green open space.

To become an adopted plan, the Urban Renewal Plan must be approved by the SRA, the Planning Board, the City Council and the State. Currently, the Plan is with the SRA, which will vote on its approval during its September meeting at the earliest. Should the Plan be approved by all required bodies, there will be a separate, robust community process on the design for the redevelopment. Participants have already expressed an interest in preserving a pharmacy use, bringing back fresh produce and maximizing public benefits of the redevelopment of this site. More work will need to be done as a community to determine the best possible outcomes for the site. 

In the meantime, community members may share their feedback on the plan with the SRA by participating in public comment at the SRA’s meetings or emailing written feedback to [email protected]. Project updates are available at www.SomerVoice.SomervilleMA.gov, and interested stakeholders may sign up for email updates. SRA meetings are posted to the City Calendar at www.somervillema.gov

Individuals with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication, written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures, in order to access the programs and activities of the City of Somerville or to attend meetings, should contact Nency Salamoun, at 617-625-6600 x2323 or [email protected]