Draft Winter Hill Urban Renewal Plan Released for Public Comment

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

SOMERVILLE, MA – 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 LDrago@SomervilleMA.gov. Project updates are available at http://www.SomerVoice.SomervilleMA.gov, and interested stakeholders may sign up for email updates. SRA meetings are posted to the City Calendar at http://www.somervillema.gov. Sign up for City alerts at http://www.somervillema.gov/alerts.

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 NSalamoun@somervillema.gov.

2 thoughts on “Draft Winter Hill Urban Renewal Plan Released for Public Comment”

  1. For the most part this is only a few people deciding what we want. Nothing to do with the owner of the property. So it is unlikely to go anywhere. The majority of the people in the area want a supermarket. That’s a no brainer. The powers that be do not want us to have a supermarket. They want more of the multiuse buildings like the one ny Temple they can’t even rent out. The good part is the owner of the old star has the money to keep this going for many more years. As much as I would like to see things happen their I applaud the owner for his fight to do what he wants on his own property. We need more like him until we can get people in office here that work for the taxpayers of the city. Plus it would have been a dead end considering how they screwed over the small businesses in the building on Temple. We would have just another half filled building. On a personal note I think the property is more suited for use as a homeless center of some type which we are in desperate need here. That would be the right thing to do as we have all kinds of homeless here. Even children. Seniors who can no longer afford to rent and so one. Many good people through no fault of their own. It would do well for the city to step up for once and do something for those who are in need. I am not holding my breath on that one as every time they have a chance to do the right thing they won;t do that.

  2. What city administration and their donors want — Everything that will not benefit the working class neighborhoods. That’s all everyone needs to know. The owners proposal of putting in an OCEAN STATE JOB LOT, was a good idea. I think everyone in the city would have benefited. All the yuppies want are coffee shops, breweries, and nothing that is essential to families and elderly. For the city to expect our elderly cross McGrath Highway to go shopping is insane. But this is what GENTRIFICATION does. It eliminates everything a working class community depends upon. When essential needs are eliminated, so are the people who depend on them. They give up or are eventually priced out. This is all intentionally done by a group of greedy opportunists and the leader of the pack.

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