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Newton City Council approves mixed-use development at Riverside Station on the Green Line

The project by Mark Development and Normandy Real Estate Partners could take a long as a decade to be completed.
The project by Mark Development and Normandy Real Estate Partners could take a long as a decade to be completed.Mark Development

Newton’s City Council has approved a roughly 1 million-square-foot development at the MBTA’s Riverside Station that would bring 582 apartments, a hotel, stores, and offices next to the Newton Lower Falls transit stop.

Mark Development and Normandy Real Estate Partners plan 10 buildings on 13 acres, including the station’s parking lot on Grove Street and the nearby Hotel Indigo property.

In two votes late Monday night, the 24-member council unanimously approved a special permit and zoning changes for the project to move forward, following about two hours of discussion.

Robert Korff, the principal of Mark Development, praised city officials in a statement Tuesday and called the votes a clear reflection of nearly three years of “hard work, creativity, and compromise.”

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“As a result of this collaborative effort, the city will gain much needed new housing, including a significant number of affordable units, and commercial space,” Korff said. “Equally importantly, it transforms an unattractive parking lot into a new neighborhood that contributes to the vitality of the City we all call home.”

Work is due to start with a parking garage in 2022. Overall, construction is likely to last five to 10 years, according to the developer.

The development approved Monday would have 480 market-rate apartments and 102 affordable units, according to the city.

The project was first proposed in 2018, and Monday night’s votes were the result of negotiations between developers, residents, and city officials, who hammered out a final plan that scaled back the initial pitch.

Joshua Krintzman, a councilor-at-large representing Ward 4, including Newton Lower Falls, said during the meeting that the Riverside project would increase the city’s housing stock, improve access to the train station, and bring much-needed vitality to the area.

“I definitely remain concerned about some of the impacts that this will have, but I am hopeful the developer will be true to their obligations and mitigate problems when they arise, and all in all, I will be supporting this item,” Krintzman said shortly before councilors voted.

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The Lower Falls Improvement Association Riverside Committee, which represented residents who raised concerns about the development, praised neighbors and city officials for their involvement in the project and credited Mark Development for meeting with the group and negotiating in good faith. The group’s statement said it will continue to advocate for the community during construction.

“While we succeeded in reducing the overall size of the project and working out many details, the 10 building, 1.025 million square foot development approved tonight essentially creates a new Newton village," the statement said. "Nonetheless, this is what compromise looks like.”

A critic of the project has been the Woodland Golf Club, located across the street, which raised objections about noise and dust from construction and whether reflected sunlight from buildings would burn the grass.

Lisa Mead, the attorney representing the club, told the Globe in an e-mail Monday that Mark Development and Woodland continue to have “productive, private discussions,” adding that “We have continued to make progress and our discussions are continuing.”

The project would include a 10-story building with about a quarter-million square feet of office space, including 7,500 square feet reserved for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. A new hotel building of six stories and 77,000 square feet also would be part of the project.

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The 582 rental apartments would be distributed among the remaining eight buildings, ranging in height from four to eight stories. The project’s roughly 39,000 square feet of retail space would be split among five of the residential buildings, the city said.

Forty-four apartments would be set aside for households that earn 50 percent of the median income in Newton, which is about $113,000 for a family of four.

Another 43 apartments would be set aside for households earning 80 percent of the median income. The other 15 apartments would be for households earning 100 percent of the area’s median income, the city said.

The development also calls for 1,971 garage parking spaces and 42 surface parking spots.

The project would offer more than 1.5 acres of public open space and improved bicycle access, according to the city.

Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, in a statement earlier this month, said Mark Development will also finance a new exit ramp off of Interstate 95 northbound and a new roundabout at the intersection Grove Street and the highway’s southbound exit ramp.

The city will also receive $7.2 million in mitigation funds, including $1.5 million for the Williams School, she said.

Monday’s votes constituted something of a déjà vu moment. In 2013, the then-Board of Aldermen approved a 600,000 square-foot project for the site following years of debate and review.

That earlier project, sought by Normandy Real Estate Partners, was never built. Developers later said it had been scaled back and was not financially feasible at the smaller size.

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In 2018, Normandy joined up with Mark Development, which has been active in projects along Washington Street, to propose a Riverside project that incorporated the nearby Hotel Indigo property.

The second iteration of a Riverside development was also scaled down from its initial proposal, which included about 660 residential units and an 18-story tower to house a hotel and condos, and a 14-story building with office space.

The MBTA praised Monday’s decision in a statement from spokesman Joe Pesaturo that said the T "looks forward to seeing this Transit Oriented Development project become a reality.”


Jon Chesto of the Globe staff contributed to this report.



John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.