100-day community engagement effort will introduce US2, begin visioning for Union Square
SOMERVILLE – Residents, business owners and community members are invited to a kickoff event in Union Square to meet recently selected Union
Square Master Developer Partner, Union Square Station Associates (US2). People of all ages are invited for a casual evening of barbecue, meeting US2 staff members and sharing their vision for the neighborhood on whiteboards that will be set up around Union Square’s plaza.
The kickoff event will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 19 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and is the first of many events to be hosted by the City and US2 to engage the community about the future of Union Square. The event also marks the official start of US2’s 100-day community engagement effort to interview a wide variety of Union Square stakeholders about their vision for the future of the square.
US2 and the City will expand community dialogue through various virtual and real world engagements including a “Civic Summit” forum showcasing industries pioneering new technologies that enhance civic life and could be used in Union Square. A roundtable discussion with community business leaders will explore job growth and workforce development in the area. US2 will have a strong presence at community events such as the Farmers’ Market and Fluff Festival. The development team will also participate in monthly Union Square Civic Advisory Committee (CAC) meetings and host ‘Design and Donuts’ office hours at US2’s forthcoming local office, which the team hopes to establish in the coming weeks. As US2 expands its outreach and collects feedback from the community during the next 100 days, it will also collaborate with the City in the first steps of a master plan process with extensive community engagement.
“The work of restoring Union Square as Somerville’s historic commercial center is only just beginning, and if we are going to achieve our collective goals as determined by years of public processes, including SomerVision, the community and our master developer partner US2 will need to have a consistent, open dialogue,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “I am glad to see that US2 is looking to hit the ground running by expanding its community engagement, while beginning the planning process to ensure we stay on schedule for the Green Line station opening in 2017. This is the first step in managing the change coming to Union Square and ensuring the right balance between revitalization and preservation.”
US2’s 100-day plan also includes expanding its website at http://www.us2unionsquare.info, with plans in the next month for an online engagement tool allowing for idea sharing and dialogue with the community, and its digital presence on social media through Twitter (@us2unionsquare) and Facebook (US2 – Union Square Station Associates.)
“During the master developer selection process, US2 reached out to Union Square’s businesses and residents more than any other candidate, and had interesting ideas for continuing that consistent dialogue if they were chosen,” said Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston. “Now that they have been selected, I know that US2 can stick to that commitment while we keep our eyes squarely on our goals of keeping Union Square grounded and unique, by supporting current and new local businesses, creating more affordable housing and making sure that this project benefits the people who have already invested in the neighborhood.”
“Capitalizing on the opportunities for economic growth in Union Square and Boynton Yards is a critical piece of solving the puzzle of housing affordability, by not only increasing our housing stock but expanding Somerville’s tax base so we have more commercial entities paying into the City services we all rely on,” said Ward 3 Alderman Bob McWatters. “Forces are driving up housing costs throughout the Greater Boston region. This project will help us push back against those forces, and I look forward to working with US2 in a collaborative effort that will match the hopes and dreams of our residents, local businesses and the whole community.”
“Somerville is already one of the most dynamic, diverse and livable cities in the United States,” said Greg Karczewski, Development Director, US2. “Over the next 100 days, the US2 team will begin meeting with the community to listen to their thoughts and ideas to ensure that Union Square remains a vibrant destination and an exceptional place to live, work, play, and raise a family.”
The Somerville Redevelopment Authority (SRA) selected US2 in June as the master developer partner for the Union Square revitalization plan. The development team will work in partnership with the City, SRA, CAC, current property owners and Union Square community to achieve the goals outlined by the community in SomerVision—new jobs, housing with a range of affordability, public green space and sustainable, transit-oriented development, while preserving the historical character and culture of the square.