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Newton City Council approves life sciences for Riverside mixed-use development

Newton City Hall.
Newton City Hall.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Newton’s City Council on Sept. 9 approved a pair of life sciences buildings and other changes developers sought for their mixed-use development at the Riverside transit station in Newton Lower Falls.

The latest version of the project, which has been before local city leaders in one form or another for more than a decade, is expected to enter construction by late next year and bring hundreds of new apartments to the 13-acre site near Interstate 95, according to the city.

The City Council approved an earlier version of the project for the station — following years of discussions — in October 2020. Mark Development and Normandy Real Estate Partners proposed the updated version in the spring.

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The changes don’t affect the broad outline of the project, which calls for 10 buildings and about 1 million square feet. The existing Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority train station — serving as the terminus for the Green Line’s D Branch — would remain as part of the development.

Developers have pledged nearly $9 million for local improvements, including upgrades for the Williams Elementary School, along with a new exit ramp from Interstate 95 northbound, according to the city. They’ll also construct a roundabout at the intersection of Grove Street and the exit ramp from the highway’s southbound lanes, the city has said.

The City Council voted 23-0 to approve zoning changes and amend the special permit on Sept. 9, according to the City Clerk’s office.

The revised project includes a total of 362,000 square feet of office and laboratory space, as well as 22,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, according to the city. It also includes more than 2,100 parking spaces.

A planned hotel was replaced by a 109-foot life sciences building, according to the city, and an office tower will be replaced with another life sciences building that will stand about 157 feet tall.

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The total number of apartments also was reduced, from 582 units to 550, according to the city. That figure includes 44 apartments available for households earning 50 percent of the area median income, which was $119,000 for a family of four in fiscal 2020, the city reported.

An additional 44 apartments will be reserved for households earning 80 percent of that income level, and 22 units available at 110 percent.

The city also will receive just shy of $9 million for the project, including $1.5 million for upgrading the Williams Elementary School; $3 million for the Riverside-Charles River trail network; and $1.4 million to upgrade the city’s sewer system, according to the city. Newton also will receive about $3 million for neighborhood improvements — an increase of about $1.5 million over the amount provided in the previous version of the project.

Also included is a 10-foot, two-way protected bicycle lane that stretches over the highway, from Riverside to the Lower Falls Community Center, the city said.

Construction is due to begin with the new Riverside parking garage by the end of 2022, according to the city.


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