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Malden

Apartment complex planned for government center site

An artist’s rendering of the view from Commercial Street to a planned apartment complex flanking Pleasant Street.

CBT Architects

An artist’s rendering of the view from Commercial Street to a planned apartment complex flanking Pleasant Street.

The city of Malden has finalized a deal to sell its government center and police station for $9.8 million.

Jefferson Apartment Group has agreed to purchase the 2.2-acre site at 200 Pleasant St. and plans to spend $80 million redeveloping it into two buildings with 245 market-rate apartments, 17,250 square feet of retail space, and parking for 315 vehicles, city officials said.

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The project will reconnect Pleasant Street — which has been blocked since the government center was constructed in the 1970s — and open the way between the city’s downtown area and the Malden Center stop on the Orange Line.

Sandi Silk, vice president of development for the Jefferson Apartment Group, said the site was attractive to the group because of its close proximity to the MBTA.

“The Malden site is unique as an opportunity to be a catalyst for revitalization,” Silk said.

The developer was one of four that submitted a proposal for the site in October. The project still needs to receive site plan approval from the city, and Jefferson will probably submit plans sometime this summer, Silk said.

Meanwhile, city officials have turned their focus to relocating municipal offices to 100 Dartmouth St., currently a city-owned parking lot behind the Malden Post Office that faces Mountain Avenue. Mayor Gary Christenson said the site for a new police headquarters will probably be located somewhere along Route 60.

‘The Malden site is unique as an opportunity to be a catalyst for revitalization.’

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Reviews of city hall design proposals and proposed police station sites are expected to begin in coming weeks, Christenson said. Part of the city’s agreement with Jefferson requires that the current government center be vacated by the end of 2015.

“We need to have an aggressive timeline,” Christenson said.

Moving the city’s government center has been one of Christenson’s prime goals since he took office in 2010. The way the complex blocks Pleasant Street was one of the most common complaints he heard while campaigning, he said.

Former and current Malden residents offered their views about the new development on the Facebook group Malden, Back In the Day , which has more than 5,000 members. In a 48-hour period, 110 former and current residents posted comments on the apartment plan.

Although some said that longtime residents will not be able to afford rents at the new complex and there already are high-end apartments nearby, others welcomed an influx of shoppers and diners to boost business in Malden Square.

“I volunteer in Malden two or three days a week, and am thrilled that the mistake on Pleasant Street is coming down,” wrote Pam DeGroot, 64, who grew up in Malden and now lives in Saugus.

“That’s great. I love it,” said James Schulz, 40, of the new development. “I am 40 years old, been here since I was born [in] 1973, and yes I’m still here and will never leave.”

Preliminary plans from Jefferson Apartment Group show a six-story building on each side of Pleasant Street, one with a built-in, three-level parking garage and a green terrace with a pool, and the other with ground-level retail space.

The agreement allows for the developer to increase the number of residential units, but Jefferson must pay the city $40,000 for each unit above 245. Christenson said he did not expect significant changes to the number of units or size of the buildings.

“Based on the discussions I’ve been a part of, I don’t think that will be a major factor,” he said. “I think what’s been proposed will pretty much remain in the end.”

Jarret Bencks can be reached at jbbencks@gmail.com.
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