Next steps: 100-day plan for community outreach, development of community process
to shape community benefits and
standards for redevelopment
SOMERVILLE – Union Square Station Associates (US2) was unanimously selected by the Somerville Redevelopment Authority (SRA) as the master developer for the Union Square revitalization plan at the SRA’s meeting on Thursday, June 26.
US2 is a partnership between Magellan Development and Mesirow Financial. Magellan previously developed Lakeshore East and University Village, both in Chicago. The SRA considered three other finalists recommended by the 20-member Union Square Civic Advisory Committee (CAC): Gerding Edlen, The Abbey Group, and the team of Federal Realty and National Development.
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. Ten firms applied before the list was narrowed down to the four finalists after 10 meetings of the CAC and presentations by each firm to the SRA. A 10-person delegation consisting of CAC and SRA members, City staff and elected officials visited projects completed by the four finalists in May and June, and at a June 23 meeting, the CAC and a report by the Mayor’s Office of Planning and Community Development (OSPCD) recommended US2 and Gerding Edlen as their final recommendations to the SRA.
US2 qualifications cited by the CAC and OSPCD included the team’s on-the-ground engagement in the community from the start of the process, plans to expand Somerville’s innovation economy through the Union Square redevelopment, and creative approach toward creating affordable housing in their developments.
“I am pleased that a thorough community process has led to the SRA’s selection of US2 as our partner in achieving the goals that the community charged us with in SomerVision—creating new jobs, public green space and homes with a range of affordability in Union Square through sustainable development, while preserving the history and unique character of our historic commercial center and neighborhood,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “This process started with the community in SomerVision, continued with the community-driven rezoning of Union Square and Boynton Yards, and stayed community-focused throughout this process. I expect US2 to continue this proven approach by working closely with the CAC to ensure that the community’s vision for this neighborhood is fully realized.”
Next steps include US2’s creation of a 100-day plan, beginning with the establishment of a local office in Somerville and focusing on conversations with the community to gain a deeper understanding of local priorities. US2 will attend the next CAC meeting and immediately expand their previous outreach efforts to Union Square residents, businesses and community stakeholders, and will work with the City in the coming weeks to create a social event and formally introduce themselves as the City’s partner. The City is working on establishing a clear community process that will shape a community benefits and mitigation package for the project, and the standards and conditions for Union Square’s redevelopment that, in turn, will shape the neighborhood’s development. The development team will also establish contact with the MBTA regarding the Green Line Station design, and Parsons Brinkerhoff regarding the in-depth roadway and infrastructure improvement plan for the square.
The CAC will act as a sounding board for US2 going forward, helping shape proposals that will then be brought forward for full public review, providing the community a dialogue with the developer to help determine a strategy that ensures the continuity of this unique and vibrant square, while making sure all the pieces come together in a way that creates community-driven, sustainable and strategic economic development.
The RFQ’s criteria for selecting a Union Square master developer included formulating a community benefits and mitigation package for large-scale, mixed-use developments; experience with pedestrian- and bike-friendly transit-oriented developments; financial capacity to complete the project; conducting public charrette planning sessions; and creating a sense of community and place including embracing existing eclectic elements that define an area.