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Waltham approves development plan

Vacant buildings to be demolished

An architect’s rendering of the apartment and retail development proposed for Main and Moody streets in Waltham.

Northland Investment Corp

An architect’s rendering of the apartment and retail development proposed for Main and Moody streets in Waltham.

Downtown Waltham is about to get a lot busier.

Waltham’s City Council unanimously approved a special permit Wednesday allowing developers to demolish four mostly vacant buildings at Moody and Main streets, and replace them with three five-story buildings containing 269 residences, ground-level retail space, and 392 parking spaces.

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Developers from Newton-based Northland Investment Corp. will demolish 702 Main St., 716 Main St., 1 Moody St., and 55 Moody St., and construct the three new buildings comprising 340,000 square feet.

After the meeting, developers said they hope to break ground within the next few months, and complete construction within 2½ years.

The buildings previously held commercial tenants, but are now vacant except for Sovereign Bank at 1 Moody St. and Citizens Bank at 716 Main St. Demolition is planned in stages to accommodate the banks, which will both be invited to set up shop in the new development.

Councilors said Wednesday that they are happy to see the outdated buildings go.

“The Sovereign Bank building, as beautiful as maybe it once was, has outlived its design and function,” said Councilor Gary Marchese. “You will not recognize these two blocks of the city in the next three years. It will be an amazing development and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

“This is an absolutely sterling example of smart growth,” Councilor Robert Logan said at Wednesday’s meeting. “This will mean so much to our downtown. It will be a catalyst for improvement up and down Moody and Main streets.”

Last week’s approval for the behemoth project is just one move in a recent push to revitalize the city’s downtown.

Councilors in August approved a 30,000-square-foot, 16-unit condominium building with retail and restaurant space at 210 Moody St. They also passed a $1.47 million initiative, pushed by Mayor Jeannette McCarthy, to build sidewalks and replant 75 trees along Moody Street, in hopes of attracting more foot traffic and business interest.

Councilors on Wednesday also discussed relaxing zoning bylaws to allow certain food establishments, such as upscale cafes and bakeries, to open downtown. Those proposals will be reviewed by the Board of Survey and Planning and the City Council’s Ordinance and Rules Committee before returning to the full council for a vote.

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com.
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