Somerville Infill and Small Developments

Ruairi

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They're demoing the old strip mall at 98 Washington today.
cobble hill?
is there any actual plans for what will replace it.
I know the city want to put in police and fire HQ but I thought that was far off.
 

George_Apley

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That's where the new public safety facility will be. No idea if it's close to construction. No recent news reports. Maybe it's just being demo'd and will sit until the city is ready to build.
 

sm89

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cobble hill?
is there any actual plans for what will replace it.
I know the city want to put in police and fire HQ but I thought that was far off.
A distant corner of the city seems like an odd location for a central police and fire station HQ. Did they explain their thought process?
 

George_Apley

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A distant corner of the city seems like an odd location for a central police and fire station HQ. Did they explain their thought process?
It's available and developable land of sufficient size in a very densely packed city. It's also not that far from the existing Public Safety Building and arguably has better arterial access to main corridors with the exception of Somerville Ave, which has its own Fire Station annex.
 

JumboBuc

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A distant corner of the city seems like an odd location for a central police and fire station HQ. Did they explain their thought process?
Somerville has multiple police and fire stations scattered across the city (with another proposed for the ground floor of a multi-use building in Assembly) so a central location for the "HQ" doesn't seem all too important.
 

erom

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It's a short trip down Washington to the existing Public Safety Building, which sits on increasingly desirable/valuable land in Union Square. As I understand it, cashing out on that land value is the primary goal here.

I don't believe I've seen the plans for the new building yet, so I assume they intend to let the site sit empty for a spell. It's been home to a temporary fire department facility (A one-engine garage tent and a trailer with a couple firefighters stationed there) during the bridge closure, I assume to ensure rapid response to east somerville while the bridge was closed, but that's been winding down recently.
 

Ruairi

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I get the impression the city looked at the bottom line re. this site.
The cost of liability insurance, security, and basic upkeep of the structure vastly outstrip the cost of maintaining an empty fenced off lot.
Viable businesses were forced out of this strip to make way for a failed development 6 years ago, I'd wager it'll be another 6 before we see any construction on the site.
It makes perfect sense to fast track something, 6 months planning/prep and a year to build, opening at the same time as the T station, but that wont happen.
 

George_Apley

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I don't even know if the city has bonded the new facility yet. Not everything can be fast-tracked.
 

Ruairi

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I don't even know if the city has bonded the new facility yet. Not everything can be fast-tracked.
Right, I get that, then maybe look at some sort of transitional use for the site rather than turning it in to a derelict lot indefinitely.
There was a Tedeschis and Duncs there that, I presume, were invaluable to the people in the Cobble Hill senior living complex next door.
The recent history of this site is a lesson in how not to develop.
And why has the city not bonded a new facility, they've known they need one for years.
It all smacks of short term thinking.
Dont even get me started on the sense of locating a police, fire, and ambulance depot clustered around a pedestrian heavy T station.
 

George_Apley

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I don't know that they haven't but I'm not finding anything easily that they approved a bond sale. The high school was a big one because it needed to be put to voters. I don't know about the public safety building.

I see your point about being adjacent to a T station, but that's pretty much going to be the case anywhere in Somerville after GLX opens. You don't want your public safety facility hidden away in an industrial zone either (of which the few areas of Somerville that are that will also become transit adjacent/redeveloped/etc.).

This literally comes down to the existing facility being old and dilapidated, the land in Union Square having a high sale value, and the land in Cobble Hill Plaza being available and of adequate size. The City landbanked it and it might have to sit empty for a while. That sucks, but it's also how municipal planning is going to work in a dense city that's only getting denser.
 

Ruairi

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I don't know that they haven't but I'm not finding anything easily that they approved a bond sale. The high school was a big one because it needed to be put to voters. I don't know about the public safety building.

I see your point about being adjacent to a T station, but that's pretty much going to be the case anywhere in Somerville after GLX opens. You don't want your public safety facility hidden away in an industrial zone either (of which the few areas of Somerville that are that will also become transit adjacent/redeveloped/etc.).

This literally comes down to the existing facility being old and dilapidated, the land in Union Square having a high sale value, and the land in Cobble Hill Plaza being available and of adequate size. The City landbanked it and it might have to sit empty for a while. That sucks, but it's also how municipal planning is going to work in a dense city that's only getting denser.
yeah, I get all that.
I think the star market site in Winter Hill might have been a better bet but if stuff is going in to Assembly (and the new master plan for the star market site), maybe Washington street is the only reasonable option left.
And how does this all fit in with the lowering of McGrath?
The city own the land. US2 are a guaranteed buyer for the existing buildings site, The only reason this will take forever is bureaucratic messing.
 

kjdonovan

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They're demoing the old strip mall at 98 Washington today.
I believe that's the site of the future public safety complex (PD and FD) but I don't recall seeing plans for such a building or a construction schedule. Does such a thing exist? Or is this just that they are trying to go for the world record of total number of municipal projects you can have going at once in a 4 square mile city?
 

George_Apley

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I believe that's the site of the future public safety complex (PD and FD) but I don't recall seeing plans for such a building or a construction schedule. Does such a thing exist? Or is this just that they are trying to go for the world record of total number of municipal projects you can have going at once in a 4 square mile city?
We litigated this a bit above. No public filings for a design or construction schedule that I could find. Maybe someone more industrious can dig something up. Consensus is that the city is landbanking the empty lot until they're ready to build.
 

Equilibria

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The latest presentation (I'm sure this is upthread somewhere) from February 2019:


A month later they took the property by eminent domain:


Don't know whether they're gearing up to build. Presumably the new facility needs to be done before they tear down the old one in the next round of US2 construction.
 

George_Apley

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Thanks for digging that up. So they bonded the purchase back in 2019, but I don't know that they've bonded the new facility itself. US2 can skip the public safety building for as long as the city takes to sort out its plans with the new site.
 

erom

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The demo wrapped up at 98 Washington, and they took down the temporary fire station, so now the site is empty. And now we wait.

Fingers crossed they go with something taller than their initial concept. Plenty of room on that site for some street facing single story retail or food or something, with the actual use tucked behind and above. Especially with the T coming in right around the corner and the existing food options (Buddys, Michaels, Oliverias) and the first story retail slot in the 105 washington and 103 washington developments, that block could start to come alive. Hope they don't squash the potential with a giant parking lot in the front of the site (they're totally going too).
 

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