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Old 10-18-2006, 10:22 AM   #1
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Under Construction Assembly Row (Assembly Sq Redevelopment) | Assembly Square | Somerville

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Originally Posted by The Globe
Pact could end row over project near Assembly Square
Promise of funds for MBTA station is the key to deal

By Chris Reidy, Globe Staff | October 17, 2006

A tentative agreement disclosed yesterday between developers and a community group could end nearly a decade of dispute and allow construction of an Ikea furniture store and an ambitious mixed-use project consisting of office space, a hotel, and more than 2,100 rental apartments and residential condominiums near Somerville's Assembly Square.

"It's just exciting and incredible to see we're moving forward," Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone said. ``The sky's the limit."

A key to the accord was a promise by Ikea and Federal Realty Investment Trust , the mixed-use project's developer, to invest $15 million to help build an MBTA station nearby -- an Orange Line stop between the Sullivan Square and Wellington stations that would help address opponents' traffic concerns.

Over the years, members of a group of Somerville residents called the Mystic View Task Force sued the city and Ikea to block zoning changes and development proposals. Several suits are outstanding.

But because of the agreement, task force member Wig Zamore said, ``All the lawsuits are going away."

Mystic View objected to big-box stores such as Ikea on the grounds they would aggravate traffic without adding high-paying jobs and additional tax revenue to the city. Mystic View argued that proposals for transit-oriented development that included office buildings, residences, and open space were preferable.

In 2005, Federal Realty disclosed plans to purchase nearly a third of the roughly 145-acre Assembly Square site. Earlier this year, Mystic View began negotiating with Ikea and Federal Realty, whose vision for a mixed-use urban village has similarities to what Mystic View had been advocating.

``We deeply appreciate Federal's hard work with us to see that potential," Mystic View spokesman Bill Shelton said yesterday, who noted that Federal Realty's proposal now envisions far more office space than originally planned.

``We began this process with serious conflicts, but we kept working together until we found creative solutions," said Don Briggs , senior vice president at Federal Realty.

One important component for an urban village would be the proposed T stop. The federal government has earmarked $25 million toward a T station expected to cost $40 million, said US Representative Michael Capuano , a Somerville Democrat. Federal Realty's and Ikea's plan to contribute $15 million should expedite that.

Still, Capuano said, that station is ``several years away" from being a reality.

Once the agreement with Mystic View is finalized, Briggs said Federal Realty could break ground in 2009; depending on market conditions, the project would likely be built in phases over eight to 10 years.

The agreement follows a previously disclosed plan for a land swap between Federal Realty and Ikea. A call to Ikea was not returned. Briggs said Ikea could likely break ground in 2008.

An urban village next to a T stop would qualify as ``smart growth," the notion of developing high-density mixed-use projects near public transportation.

Assembly Square ``could be the most impressive smart growth project in New England," said Douglas Foy , a former Massachusetts secretary of commonwealth development who helped mediate the agreement.

Chris Reidy can be reached at
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Old 10-21-2006, 03:21 PM   #2
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Just curious, "after nearly a decade of dispute" between community groups and developers, who exactly pays the attorney's fees of the community groups? We're talking about a substantial amount of money I imagine; are these individuals who are so committed to the vision of what they feel is proper for their community putting their money where their mouth is or what? Or is the Mystic View Task Force a quasi-government group that the city of Somerville funds?
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Old 01-13-2007, 11:02 AM   #3
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AMC-Loews Assembly Square Cinema closes this Monday. I do not know what will happen to the property. It is not owned by Federal Realty or IKEA, who are the primary movers behind Assembly Square redevelopment.
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Old 03-07-2007, 09:59 AM   #4
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Latest Assembly Square redevelopment plan

The Enviromental Notification Form for this project has been filed. The plan calls for 5,396,216 sqare feet of new devrlopment on the 50.2 acre site. Included in the plan are 2,100 residential units, 1.75 million square feet of office space, and 852,000 square feet of retail space. Included in this project is a four story Ikea as well as a new resturant, a new cinema, and a 200 room hotel. A new orange line station will be constructed on site a Ikea will make a 15 million dollar investment in the station.
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Old 03-11-2007, 12:24 PM   #5
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St Polycarp?
St Polycarp Village nearby should help improve Mystic Ave.
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Old 08-20-2007, 03:45 PM   #6
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What's new here?

For such a huge project, things seem awfully quiet. What's new?

This is all I could find:
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Old 08-20-2007, 07:10 PM   #7
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I'm financing the affordable housing component of St. Polycarp. We will probably make the loan in, things are moving forward.
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Old 08-23-2007, 10:42 AM   #8
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Feds Slam Brakes on Assembly Square

Feds slam brakes on Assembly Square
By Casey Ross and Marie Szaniszlo
Thursday, August 23, 2007

A massive plan to redevelop Assembly Square in Somerville is on the rocks after federal officials blocked efforts to fast-track construction of a $40 million MBTA station needed to support an explosion of retail shops and office space, the Herald has learned.

Federal transit officials confirmed they have nixed plans to build the proposed station under a streamlined regulatory process, delivering yet another blow to the train-deprived city after years of efforts to improve public transit.

The shocking blow comes two weeks after the Patrick administration delayed a separate effort to extend the Green Line to Somerville and Medford, citing the need to leverage federal funding. That project, already years behind schedule, could now be put off two years beyond its 2014 completion date.

The snafu with the proposed Assembly Square Orange Line station caught several public officials off guard, creating a scramble to ensure the delivery of $25 million in federal money for the project.

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone insisted the T station - considered a linchpin for the Assembly Square development - will not be thrown off course.

?You can rest assured, that T stop is going to get built,? Curtatone said last night. ?In the end, this is going to be inconsequential. All systems are go.?

But sources with knowledge of the situation said the MBTA now expects to miss an early September deadline for submitting an application to get funding for the station. That means T officials must go back to the drawing board for months of work to develop cost-benefit data needed for a more detailed regulatory review.

The snafu arose after the Federal Transit Administration found that the proposed T station does not qualify for its ?Very Small Starts? program, which allows transit projects to bypass regulatory hurdles.

While the extent of the delay is unknown, it could put retailers and developers in a precarious situation, especially since the commitment to build the new T stop between Sullivan Square and Wellington Station was key to winning local support.

Said Bob Walsh, vice president of development for Federal Investment Realty Trust, the lead developer of Assembly Square: ?We have recently begun preliminary conversations with the FTA on what is the best route to access the $25 million.?

The development plan includes a massive Ikea furniture store, a multiplex cinema, retail shops, a 200-room hotel and 1.75 million square feet of office space. Executives with Ikea and Federal Realty Trust have already committed $15 million for the T station.

U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Somerville) said he is working to make sure the federal money is not significantly delayed. ?All parties involved are working together to identify the best way to access federal funding,? Capuano said in a statement. ?I expect it to move forward on a reasonable schedule.?
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Old 08-23-2007, 10:58 AM   #9
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The fact that the MBTA is going to the Feds for 1 station is the real problem. The state should pay for this. Let the Feds deal with bigger fish like full transit lines.
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Old 08-23-2007, 02:40 PM   #10
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Where was that story? Globe? I can't find it.
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Old 08-23-2007, 02:44 PM   #11
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Old 08-24-2007, 12:39 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by vanshnookenraggen
The fact that the MBTA is going to the Feds for 1 station is the real problem. The state should pay for this. Let the Feds deal with bigger fish like full transit lines.
Decent point, but wasn't this money earmarked for this project?

This article also seems like piling on. Since Somerville appeared to be getting hosed last week, this is an easy follow up. But it doesn't really look like things have changed, since everyone quoted in the article says they're still on board, and no one is even blind-quoted speaking against the project. I wonder what the opponents of the project have to say about it...
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Old 08-24-2007, 01:04 PM   #13
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There aren't any opponents of the Orange Line station.
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Old 09-09-2007, 10:37 AM   #14
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From Sunday's City/Region Section:

Anyone been to Stoughton lately? Is the traffic still bad?

Fear of gridlock hangs over Ikea pact

By Kristen Green, Globe Correspondent | September 9, 2007

A proposal to build an Ikea store at Assembly Square has residents and community leaders worried that the traffic it draws will stifle East Somerville businesses, clog neighborhood streets, and cause backups onto Interstate 93.

The Swedish furniture company is proposing to build one of its signature blue and yellow stores on an 11-acre site behind Home Depot. The company plans to erect a 133-foot water tower marked with the Ikea logo to help motorists on the highway find the 340,000-square-foot store.

But neighbors are concerned that out-of-town visitors to the low-cost furniture store won't know which exit to take and will swamp East Somerville streets.

Others said they worry the proposed Assembly Square Drive, designed as the spine of the project running about a mile from Mystic Avenue to Route 28, will not be long enough or wide enough to accommodate all the cars coming off I-93.

"A lot of people in Somerville are bracing themselves for what they fear will be permanent gridlock," said state Representative Denise Provost, a Somerville Democrat.

Ikea officials acknowledged as recently as last week that "people will drive many hours to come to the store."

But they have also said the massive traffic backups created by the 2005 opening of the Stoughton store would not be replicated in Somerville because it would be the second Ikea in the region.

The Planning Board held a public hearing last week on a request from the developer, Federal Realty Investment Trust, for a special permit for the first phase of the Assembly Square development - construction of the Ikea store and Assembly Square Drive.

Residents said traffic mitigation plans, which include building a pedestrian underpass on Route 28, making road improvements, and adding traffic lights, were not detailed enough.

Alderman William M. Roche, who represents East Somerville, called most of the traffic improvements "fluff" and said he worries that traffic created by Ikea will hurt business along Broadway, East Somerville's shopping district. Roche asked the Planning Board not to approve the site plan until it has seen more-detailed traffic-mitigation plans.

"It's obvious that the people from East Somerville are nervous about the impact this is going to have on their neighborhood," he said last week. "All we're going to get is the burden of extra traffic."

Traffic engineers for the project said they expect 75 percent of the cars to arrive from I-93. They said they had used traffic counts from similar Ikea locations to come up with their estimated number of daily trips.

Ikea officials called the Somerville site "a uniquely urban store," built on a smaller parcel than the company normally likes, with most of its 1,400 parking spaces tucked under the building.

The company announced its plans to build in Somerville a decade ago, but the project had been stalled by lawsuits brought by the Mystic View Task Force, a residents' group. The logjam was broken last October, when Ikea and Federal Realty reached an agreement with the task force.

As part of the deal, Ikea agreed to swap 16 acres of property along the Mystic River for a smaller parcel closer to I-93, and the two companies agreed to contribute $15 million toward the construction of an Orange Line MBTA stop between the Sullivan Square and Wellington stations.

For their part, Mystic View representatives agreed not to fight the project. In public comments last week, they said they support the Ikea proposal, but raised questions about whether enough attention had been paid to traffic and whether Assembly Square Drive was wide enough to handle traffic off the highway.

Provost said she worries that the Orange Line MBTA station proposed next to the store may never get built and that the traffic proposals are too dependent on its arrival.

Ikea has promised to provide free shuttles to Sullivan Square or Wellington until an Orange Line station is built at Assembly Square and to provide discounted delivery service to people who use mass transit.

The store is expected to employ 400 to 500 people in full- and part-time positions, and several people who attended the Planning Board hearing asked the company to make a point of hiring Somerville residents for those jobs.

The Assembly Square project will include 1.75 million square feet of office space, 2,100 condos and apartments, and 450,000 square feet of retail in addition to Ikea.

The Planning Board has not scheduled a vote on the proposal. The board's next meeting is Sept. 18
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Old 09-09-2007, 11:52 AM   #15
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I was at Ikea Stoughton Labor Day weekend. The traffic wasn't bad at all, in fact, it was reasonable from both sides (i used exit 19 when arriving and 20 while leaving). Traffic would be reasonable probably after the initial fanfare of the Grand Opening.

Ikea also impressed me with its European Ingenuity. It's easy to access, has a parking garage (i love a garage over a lot even in the Suburbs where it's not needed) and the traffic flow pattern is clearly thought out well (including inside the store where you're forced to walk through every department).

I would assume that if this is done, it'll be done right. I'd like to see more though.
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Old 09-09-2007, 11:53 AM   #16
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Anyone been to Stoughton lately? Is the traffic still bad?
On tax-free weekends the Ikea traffic backs up to 128. Other than that, it's fine. The store is prone to short term crazes (it caused a backup that actually stretched all the way around the Moscow beltway when it opened there), not long term traffic bottlenecks.
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Old 09-09-2007, 01:28 PM   #17
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My house is less than a mile down the road from this Ikea, and in all honesty the location for it was perfect. It sits next to the highway with an exit at the entrance to the commercial park and another one on the ass end of Ikea before the more direct exit about half the mile up the road. It barely affects the town (even though we all love to complain about it), and the only time I recall it being obnoxiously backed up around here was a year or two ago when it first opened. I was working part time at the Christmas Tree Shops on the same road at the time and we were loving that our client base was too afraid of the college kids up the street to stop in.

It closes at 9 PM now which is my only complaint because us locals loved our hour or two in the place after the crowds booked it. This new rule prevented me from stopping in before I went to college last week, and boy was I pissed.
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Old 09-27-2007, 12:11 PM   #18
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Yacht Club Getting Squeezed?

This project fascinates me. I think this aspect is particularly hilarious.

A dispute over a small parcel of land on the Mystic River is at the heart of the latest chapter in Assembly Square?s development.
The Winter Hill Yacht Club has been leasing land from the state for years now, to store its boats in the off-season. However, the Board of Aldermen, the mayor?s office and the firm in charge of designing the new Assembly Square project are trying to get that land for an expanded Draw 7 Park.
Yacht club President William Flynn said that he didn?t want to ruffle any feathers, but that he sees what?s happening as something of a land grab.
?They?re choking us,? he said. ?We don?t even know if we can park our cars down there.?
The boat club has its roots in the history of the area, said Flynn. ?We were always good to the kids,? he said, and land has been taken from the club since it was known as the Winter Hill Canoe Club in 1897. Currently, the state?s Department of Conservation and Recreation controls the property. Flynn said that the city took land from the club by eminent domain to build a housing project, it took land away in 1993, and now, ?they?re turning the land over to those speculators down there.?
Mayor Joe Curtatone has himself been active in ?trying to facilitate discussions between the developers and the yacht club,? he said, and he believes that the matter of the yacht club is an easy one to resolve.
?Where they store the boats is a logistical question,? Curtatone said, but ?at the end of the day, the highest and best usage of the land is not storing the boats for off-seasonal purposes.?
Even the Mystic View Task Force, often at odds in the city in seeking dense development that also protects the waterfront, appears to be on the city?s side.
A private company such as the yacht club has no legal right to keep the public off the land, Mystic View?s Wig Zamore said, because ?the public?s interest is deemed to be much stronger than a private interest.?
From Federal Realty, the developer of the former mall, Vice President of Development Bob Walsh said in a written statement that ?one of the remaining items to be accomplished is to turn a vacant 1.6-acre lot, used for off-season storage of private boats, into a public passageway to Draw 7 Park and for development of residential and retail units, as detailed in the city?s adopted Master Plan.?
In exchange for access to the land leased by the yacht club, Federal Realty would add 1.8 acres of park land to the Draw 7 Park.
Ward 3 Alderman Tom Taylor said an expansion of Draw 7 Park would lead to ?an improved Mystic River reservation along the riverfront, and attractive and visible efforts to Draw 7 Park, the improvement of water quality in the Mystic River,? as well as improved drainage of sewage and stormwater along the riverfront.
This all leaves the yacht club membership feeling shafted, however.
?We went before the Board of Aldermen a week ago,? Flynn said. ?We weren?t contacted by [the designer]. We didn?t know anything about this.?
In the end, he said, he would have to capitulate. ?You can?t fight City Hall.?
There could be a loophole, however. As Zamore pointed out, the disputed land is a tideland/waterfront, which falls under the jurisdiction of Chapter 91, a law stating tideland is open to all members of the public.
?There?s enough waterfront at Assembly Square that we can have complete public access as well as use for the Winter Hill Yacht Club,? he said.
Curtatone had a positive outlook on the deliberations, and said that the project is a highly valued one for the city. ?People see that the project is a shining example of smart growth development and transit-oriented development,? he said. The proposed commercial, residential and recreational developments would be one of the first such developments across the Eastern Seaboard.
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Old 11-13-2007, 08:54 AM   #19
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Re: Assembly Square Redevelopment

Looks like groundbreaking next year for the IKEA. Has to be the longest process ever for an IKEA store. It should take pressure off Stoughton, which is the 2nd rank store for sales and visitors in the country according to the Boston Herald.

October 24, 2007

City, IKEA Reach Agreement on Building Conditions

Planning Board Imposes 68 ?Conditions of Approval? Including Traffic/ Pedestrian Improvements, Landscaping, Environmental Mitigation; IKEA to Donate $1 Million for City Projects

Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and Executive Director of the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development (OSPCD) Monica Lamboy today announced that the Planning Board has granted conditional approval for the Special Permit of Assembly Square?s Phase 1AA of the planned development at Assembly Square, which includes IKEA, the realignment and extension of Assembly Square Drive, and traffic mitigation at eight off-site locations. In response to public suggestions and to requests submitted by the Somerville Planning Board and Planning Staff, the IKEA plan will include provisions for 68 specific ?conditions of approval? that include enhancements to traffic and pedestrian facilities and landscaping. As part of their community benefits plan, IKEA will also donate $1 million to the city for municipal purposes.

?We?ve worked consistently with the developers and corporate officials of IKEA throughout the entire planning process, and we?re very pleased to report that we continue to be supported by IKEA and their overall commitment to create and maintain a successful community relationship,? Curtatone said. ?We will continue to work with IKEA to come up with innovations and amenities that will make this store a model for urban retailers.?

Per recommendations by the Planning Board at its October 18th meeting, IKEA has incorporated a number of new design provisions at the proposed development site, including additional landscaping and pedestrian/bicycle safety measures and off-site traffic mitigation at eight neighboring intersections that will reduce overall traffic impact in the Assembly Square area. The newly approved proposal also includes a strengthened environmental improvement plan, and commits IKEA to work with the Board and other city agencies to develop an extensive community benefits program.

?We have been pleased by the level of community participation and input in this process. Through collaboration with the City and the community, IKEA worked hard to create a unique store that addresses the needs of its urban setting,? Lamboy said. ?IKEA has proven to be a great community partner, and we look forward to the beginning of construction next summer.?

In addition to completing the 68 project conditions, IKEA will also donate $1 million to the City, pending a 20-day appeal period which ends on November 8th at the close of business. Initial mitigation for the Assembly Square project is slated to begin in the spring of 2008, with construction at IKEA set to begin in summer 2008.
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Old 11-13-2007, 01:39 PM   #20
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Re: Assembly Square Redevelopment

Nice. Glad this is getting rolling. I need my particle board tv stand!
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