Jon Chesto’s Sept. 9 Business column, “Riverside plan’s size may still draw ire,” about a huge mixed-use complex proposed for Riverside Station in Newton, seems to favor the developers over the project’s opponents. Chesto casts the developers as being so reasonable, while the opponents come off as resistant to building in nearly any form.
Chesto writes that the modified plan “is still relatively big: 1.2 million square feet on 15 acres,” with 526 housing units, a new hotel, “a sizable number of restaurants and shops, and more than a half-million square feet of office space.” There will be a 13-story building on the site. However, he did not explain what “relatively” means. What is the largest previous comparable development, and how many stories was its tallest building? Where was it located relative to residential areas? What sort of streets support that development?
The current “asphalt lake” at Riverside is a commuter lot accessed from Route 128 by way of a few hundred feet on Newton streets. How would that situation change with hundreds of residences and all that office space, in addition to the current commuters? Does Chesto think the office workers, shoppers, and residents will flock to the T? Does he think the Riverside line can handle all those people?
“Smart” development, while it includes building around transit assets, does not mean that any development, of any size, is smart just because it is close to public transit.