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Newton OK’s $350m development at Riverside

The Newton Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Monday night to approve a special permit for the Station at Riverside, one of the largest development projects the city has seen.

The $350 million development planned for 11 acres of MBTA-owned land off Route 128 will include 290 new apartments, including 44 affordable units; a 10-story office building; a parking garage; retail space; and a community center.

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“It’s been three years of literally hundreds of hours of meetings with state, local, federal officials, and the developer, the community and the aldermen,” said Alderman Ted Hess-
Mahan, chairman of the Land Use Committee. “This was a thoroughly vetted and very thoughtfully considered project.’’

The board was originally slated to vote on the permit last week, but got hung up over an amendment by Alderman Leonard Gentile that would have required developer B.H. Normandy to build the community center before the residential or office buildings could be occupied. Gentile said he was concerned that the community center would not get built in a timely manner; the developer said the amendment was a deal-breaker.

On Monday night, said Hess-Mahan and Stephen Buchbinder, an attorney for the developer, the two sides worked out a compromise: the community center must be finished within two years from occupancy of either the office building or the residential building, and the developer will set aside $3 million in an escrow account as a guarantee.

“We’re very happy,” said Buchbinder.

The next step, Hess-Mahan said, will be public meetings about the MBTA garage. Construction is tentatively scheduled to start on it next year, and the rest of the project is tentatively scheduled to begin July 2015. The project could be completed by July 2017.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com.
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