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Former Somerville school to be transformed into ‘inclusive urban village’

Somerville officials recently joined the builders of a planned mixed-use redevelopment of the former Powder House Community School to celebrate the beginning of the project.

MarKa LLC is converting the shuttered school into what the developer has called “an inclusive urban village.”

Plans call for 48 residential units: 12 condominiums for people 55 and over, and 36 rental units, three of them for people 55 and over, with eight to be marketed as live/work units for artists, and 25 with no special designation.

Eight of the 48 units will be offered at affordable rates. There also will be approximately 23,000 square feet of commercial space, most of it occupied by Powderhouse Studios, a planned nonprofit high school.


The building also will feature “maker space” for innovators to be used by Powerderhouse Studios, but also available at times to the community; and a multi-use space that can be opened up to a new park that will be built adjacent to the building.

”We are building an intergenerational community here that is serving as kind of a microcosm of the larger community. We are also hoping it acts as a community center, drawing people in through the arts and activated open space,” said Steven Azar, director of development for MarKa.

The company was selected by the city in 2015 to purchase and redevelop the site, located on Broadway between Teele and Davis squares.

Following the terms of its bid, the firm acquired the property in 2017 for $2 million. It also provided the city with about $750,000 to create the park, which will be owned and managed by the city.

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.