The Boston Globe | By Allison Pohle
October 20, 2016
The long-vacant building that once served as the Newton Centre Library Branch will soon be repurposed to include retail, community space, and five to 10 housing units, Mayor Setti Warren announced Thursday.
The mayor is calling for proposals to develop the city-owned property at 1294 Centre St. as part of the city’s Economic Growth for All initiative, which was announced earlier this month at Boston College.
Warren is also asking for proposals from a service-provider to offer support services for families living in the units to help them achieve economic independence.
“This project comes from multiple priorities from the income inequality initiative,” Warren said in an interview. “We want to increase economic mobility, build housing, develop our transportation strategy, and ensure our villages thrive economically and commercially.”
The intended use of the property, which has been vacant since January 2013, has been long debated. A 2012 report by the Newton Centre Joint Advisory Planning Group suggested that it should minimize financial burden to the city, provide a place for public interaction in the tradition of the old library, enliven the area, and increase community access and pedestrian connectivity.
It was once targeted as the home for startup accelerator MassChallenge, but the plan was scrapped after opposition from several city councilors. MassChallenge instead opened an innovation center in the former Newton Corner library.