Newtonville housing, retail development closing in on vote

The Boston Globe | By John Hilliard
February 3, 2017

NEWTON — A City Council panel could vote in the coming week on a proposed apartment and retail complex in Newtonville that has pitted some neighbors against advocates calling for more affordable housing.

Washington Place would replace the century-old buildings at the corner of Washington and Walnut streets with a four- and five-story development that includes 160 housing units, 40,000 square feet of commercial space, and 346 parking spots.

Developer Robert Korff seeks City Council approval for both a zoning change and a special permit to move ahead with construction.

Councilor Marc Laredo, who heads the City Council’s Land Use Committee, said the panel will hopefully cast its vote on the proposal on Tuesday, allowing it to move on to a future vote of the full council.

The project would set aside 24 affordable apartments for households earning an average of 65 percent of the area median income, according to a memo from Barney Heath, the city’s director of planning and development. It would also have 16 units restricted to households earning between 80 percent and 120 percent of the area median income.

The proposal has the support of a majority of the city’s planning and development board, as well as Mayor Setti Warren, who pointed to the plan as a priority in the city’s efforts to create more affordable housing.
“I’m optimistic about this passing,” Warren said in an interview.

But the plan faces opposition from a group of more than a dozen abutters who told city officials in a petition that the project is too large for the area, would worsen traffic, and would not contribute enough affordable housing to Newton, among other concerns.

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