By Larry Gottesdiener
The 23-acre Northland Newton Development (NND) represents an aspirational opportunity to create a national model of affordable housing, environmental sustainability, historic preservation, public parks and open space, transit demand management, accessibility, and ageing in community – an opportunity to develop the largest single infusion of affordable housing in decades and set the new standard for 21st century sustainable design and development.
That is why we owe a debt of gratitude to the thoughtful and passionate participation of the Councilors on the Land Use Committee, City Planning professionals, city departments, community groups, and neighbors, all of whom have given so generously of their time. For it was only through that intense process - 16 public hearings, dozens of working sessions, hundreds of community meetings, and thousands of hours - that this aspiration has been realized. Negotiations during the Land Use process produced extraordinary community benefits, including:
- Reducing the scale from two million square feet to 1.1 million square feet
- Creating the largest Passive House Residential Community in the United States
- Pushing all of the project parking underground
- Increasing open space to ten acres, 40% of the site
- Undergrounding 1.5 miles of utility lines
- Funding of a free, seven-day a week “last mile” shuttle to the Newton Highlands MBTA Stop
- Requiring $10 million of mitigation payments for city efforts such as Traffic Demand Management, the Countryside School, Inflow & Infiltration Infrastructure, a Splash Park, and Community Playground
- Dedicating an entire building for age-in-community living with Universal Design Standards and complete ADA accessibility
NND is a testament to the exhaustive and collaborative efforts of the many professionals, officials, stakeholders, and neighbors who vetted this visionary mixed-use master plan. Our team held more than 300 meetings and over 2,200 one on one conversations to solicit feedback. In short, we engaged with anyone and everyone who wished to meet with us regarding NND.
As Councilor Deb Crossley pointed out in front of the full City Council this past week, all ideas were carefully considered. At the end of the day, it was NND’s final package of master planning, affordable housing, sustainable design, open space, traffic demand management, historic preservation, mitigation payments, and amenities that struck the right balance of the competing needs of our community.
Our team is humbled to have won the support of a supermajority of City Councilors Monday night and the support and endorsements of Livable Newton, Engine 6, Green Newton, the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber, the League of Women Voters, the Newton Economic Development Commission, the Newton Housing Partnership, Newton Conservators, the Newton Citizens Commission on Energy, the Newton Urban Design Commission, and 350 Mass – Newton Node. We also acknowledge and appreciate the consensus from all parties, supporters and opponent alike, around the innovative and thoughtful master plan.
As Northland prepares to celebrate its 50th year in Newton, we cannot wait to begin this generational opportunity: to welcome area businesses to Newton by providing Class-A office space at the Saco-Pettee Mill Building, to provide desperately needed housing options that cater to all demographics, to curate retail streetscapes that enliven the corridor with shopping and dining, to build new, separated pedestrian and bike lanes that will increase the connectivity and safety of the neighborhood, and to transform the existing site into public open spaces woven into the Upper Falls Greenway. We look forward to moving our headquarters to the historic mill and are confident that the vibrant gathering places will provide recreational opportunities to Newton residents for generations to come.
Larry Gottesdiener is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Northland Investment Corporation.