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February 2014

Aberdeen council gives blessings to Frito-Lay and budget changes

Ted Hendricks | The Baltimore Sun

From a presentation by Frito-Lay to approving the much-discussed Transit Oriented Development code to giving the OK for the police to sell one of its old cars, there was more than just pay raises and potholes addressed at Monday night’s Aberdeen City Council meeting.

“This has been one of my big goals to this through,” Councilwoman Sandy Landbeck said after the mayor and the four-member city council voted unanimously to approve a revision of the city’s development code to include Transit Oriented Development.

City officials expect the change in the zoning code to helped spur redevelopment of Aberdeen’s downtown basically from Rogers Street east and south to the Amtrak station and continuing into much of east Aberdeen.

In other business at Monday night’s Aberdeen City Council meeting:

The council and mayor unanimously approved changes to the necessary requirements for a person to be a candidate for either position. The biggest change is “The Ethics Commission concurrently shall review the candidate’s financial disclosure form required by Chapter 43 of this code and report its findings to the Board of Elections in that same time period.” Failing to properly complete the financial disclosure form will be grounds for the Election Board to “reject the certificate of candidacy,” according to the approved changes. {….}

Frito-Lay to expand in Aberdeen
Snack food maker Frito-Lay will build a 164,244 warehouse addition to its plant in Aberdeen and hire an additional 100 employees, company representatives said Monday. (TED HENDRICKS | The Aegis)

Jobs, business and investment opportunities are knocking at Massachusetts’ door

Allan W. Blair | Mass Live

As we begin 2014 and consider its promise, the word “opportunity” seems to come up quite often. Maybe it is simply a natural impulse as we begin a new year, but I think it reflects a solid sense that many positive developments will happen this year.

It is an optimistic word, and when I think about it with respect to economic development, I immediately consider the many opportunities for growth – in jobs, business establishments, visitors and investment. All of which contribute to our collective standard of living, and to an increase in tax revenues that support the quality of life we desire.

One thing we have learned about our region is that for us to achieve the growth we want, we have to make our own opportunities. In the 1980 and ’90s we developed industrial and business parks around the region that attracted thousands of jobs in many new and expanded companies, all generating millions in new property taxes for the municipalities in which they are located. This kind of “prospective investment” was necessary for us to compete with other regions for the scarce amount of investment being made in new plant and equipment in the Northeast.

We create opportunities when we prepare our workforce for the new and more complex jobs created by our existing companies, as well as by those we hope to attract. The innovative training in the precision manufacturing sector funded by the state and managed by the Hampden County Regional Employment Board is a good example. {….}

Pioneer Valley Business 2014: Development hopes ride on expanded rail

Scott Merzbach |

NORTHAMPTON — Early next year, passenger rail service is slated to return to Northampton for the first time in more than 25 years, a development that Mayor David J. Narkewicz says could be a “game changer” for the city.

With the city’s Passenger Rail Advisory Committee meetings often packed with residents and strong enthusiasm for completion of the so-called Knowledge Corridor project, Narkewicz sees Northampton benefiting from the Amtrak Vermonter’s daily presence. “We view that as an important economic development engine that will bring more people to Northampton,” Narkewicz said.

The $83 million project, which includes 49.8 miles of upgraded Pan-Am Southern tracks between Springfield and the Vermont border, and new construction of passenger platforms in Northampton, Holyoke and Greenfield, brings with it the potential for more tourists visiting Northampton and more residents commuting to their jobs.

Funded through $73 million in federal stimulus money and $10 million from the state, initially the Amtrak Vermonter will continue to only offer one round trip a day, ending at its northern terminus in St. Albans, Vt. But the train will be significantly faster, with speeds 65 to 70 miles per hour on the rebuilt tracks and the elimination of the 50-minute detour through Palmer and Amherst in use since 1989. {….}

Greener Housing and Transportation Coming to Central Connecticut

Angie Schmitt | StreetsBlog USA

Central Connecticut and its biggest cities, New Haven and Hartford, have never been known for strong transit, at least not compared with the parts of the state closer to New York. Amtrak service between New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield, Massachusetts, has always operated sporadically and never been regular enough for commuting. But that is about to change.

The state is adding additional tracks that will make rail commuting possible when the project is complete in 2016. Meanwhile, a major bus rapid transit project — CT Fastrack — will link Hartford, New Britain, and adjoining towns along a 9.4-mile route. The $550 million project will be completed next year. Now another critical piece of the puzzle is coming together with the state’s new budget. Governor Dannel Malloy has included $7 million in funding to support transit-oriented development in the state. The allocation was a victory for advocates for affordable housing and sustainable transportation in Connecticut.

Steven Higashide of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign said the TOD funding and the coming transit improvements will give towns and cities throughout the region an opportunity to really strengthen their downtowns. The money will be especially helpful in locations where housing markets are weaker, he said. {….}

Purchase agreement announced for Malden city hall

Nathan Lamb | Wicked Local

This conceptual image of the redeveloped City Hall site was provided by Jefferson Apartment Group Development Company. It shows the two proposed buildings and a reconstructed Pleasant Street. Commercial Street is in the foreground. image courtesy CBT.
Image courtesy CBT.

The City of Malden has struck a $9.8 million deal to sell City Hall and the neighboring police station to a private developer.

A land disposition agreement to sell the 2.25-acre parcel at 200 Pleasant Street was announced by the office of Mayor Gary Christenson on Feb. 20. Relocation of City Hall has been a long-standing goal for many local officials, and the agreement requires the city to vacate by December of 2015. “This historical day has been a long time coming,” said Christenson, in a press release. “The City Council and I are enthusiastically moving forward on the community’s goal of revitalizing the downtown.

Redevelopment of the City Hall parcel was a key goal for Christenson upon taking office in 2012. A release from his office termed the disposition agreement “a significant milestone in the City’s efforts to revitalize Malden Square by demolishing the Government Center Building and Police Station to reopen Pleasant Street to through traffic. The deal is with Jefferson Apartment Group Development Company, a Virginia-based real estate firm with offices ranging from Boston to Florida.

The company’s current proposal calls for 245 apartment units and 17,250 square feet of commercial space at the site. The plan also includes 314 parking spaces, though the mayor’s release said those specs are “subject to refinements as the project moves forward into more advanced design and development.” {….}

State Farm Opts for Atlanta Transit Over Sprawl

Angie Schmitt | StreetsBlog USA

It was a major coup for the Atlanta region when State Farm announced yesterday locate one of its three national hubs there, a move that will bring 3,000 new jobs over the next 10 years. But what really makes this news interesting is that State Farm chose to put its new campus right next to a transit station.

The insurance giant will eventually house a total of 8,000 employees at a truly massive mixed-use development connected to a MARTA rail station. Developer KDC is planning a 2.2 million square-foot project at a 17-acre site by the Dunwoody MARTA station near Perimeter Mall. The development will include 585,000 square feet of office space for the initial lease to State Farm, which plans to expand, as well as 100,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space and a 200-room hotel, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

State Farm and KDC touted the transit connection in announcing the arrangement. “KDC is excited to continue our relationship with State Farm through the creation of a transit-oriented development in Dunwoody,” KDC’s Larry Wilson said in the press release. “This project will provide State Farm’s work force a continued platform for success with direct access to a true live-work-play environment and a MARTA station.” {….}

Massive new development in Atlanta will be walkable and convenient to transit. Image: Business Chronicle
State Farm’s massive new office and retail development in Atlanta will be right next to the train. Image: Business Chronicle


Vancouver’s Canada Line Is a Model of Transit-Oriented Development

Frances Bula | The Atlantic Cities

VANCOUVER, Canada — Vancouver’s Canada Line is an international transit model because of the innovative public-private partnership that built, funds and operates it.

But the light rail line is also becoming a model for spurring environmentally responsible growth around stations, where people will ride transit more and drive less. The Canada Line has sparked a development boom unlike anything in the region’s history.

Vancouver's Canada Line Is a Model of Transit-Oriented DevelopmentThe most striking transformation is happening in Richmond, a suburb south of Vancouver. Richmond was a bedroom community for decades. Since the late 1990s, it’s turned into the region’s primary settling point for Chinese immigrants. However, Richmond has still retained the look of a North American suburb, with a highway-like main street pocked with large malls and parking lots on either side.

Now, Richmond is the southern terminus of the Canada Line, with easy transit access to both Vancouver and the international airport. The train runs on an elevated track above the main street, No. 3 Road. Since the rail line opened in 2009, clusters of mid-rise apartment towers have gone up around stations. More are in the works. By 2040, Richmond expects to see 30,000 more people living around the line in its city center, and all the parking lots covered with buildings. {….}

$65M Harvard Square redevelopment to break ground

Thomas Grillo | Boston Business Journal

The ground breaking of 114 Mount Auburn St. and the redevelopment of the Conductor’s Building in Cambridge, Mass., is set for Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 9:30 a.m.

An artist rendering of 114 Mount Auburn St. in Cambridge, Mass.
Courtesy of Elkus Manfredi. An artist rendering of 114 Mount Auburn St. in Cambridge, Mass.

In 2012, Carpenter & Co. bought the Cambridge property to take control of the whole block adjacent to the Charles Hotel it owns. The hotel developer purchased 114-116 Mount Auburn St. in Harvard Square from the Bulfinch Cos. of Newton for $4 million with plans for a major renovation of the historic Conductors Building. A second adjacent parcel was purchased from MBTA in 2007 for $3.2 million in a public bid process.

The developer, Richard Friedman, President and CEO of Carpenter Co., plans to build an eight-story, 70,000-square-foot building that will include a restaurant, retail and office space. The $65 million development will include a new main building that is 100 percent leased to Harvard University on a long-term lease. Occupancy is expected to commence next year. The 5,000-square-foot Conductor’s Building historic renovation will happen simultaneously.

Friedman, who is well-known for the redevelopment of the former Charles Street Jail into theLiberty Hotel, is taking on another complex public-private partnership in the redevelopment of the century old Conductor’s Building, one of the oldest original structures of the Red Line. The new building is the result of a complex design where the building cantilevers over and above the electric transformers that power the Red Line. The project is expected to revitalize what has been a major eyesore and put to productive use an excess MBTA property and beautify a section of Harvard Square.

David Manfredi of Elkus Manfredi of Boston is the architect and the general contractor is Boston-based Tishman Construction.

Transportation Secretary says state working to buy Western Mass. train tracks

Jim Kinney | The Republican

State Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey talked passenger rail, Interstate 91 and the Willimansett Bridge Tuesday in a wide-ranging luncheon hosted by the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce.

The event also featured remarks from state Rep. Joseph Wagner, D-Chicopee.

Davey said he expects all construction on all three projects, including phase one work repairing Interstate 91 near the Interstate 291 ramp, to begin in 2014 if the state Senate passes a pending authorization bill already passed by the House. That $260 million first phase also includes planning for the possibility of rebuilding the 2.5-mile stretch of highway either at or below grade. Doing so would reconnect the city to its waterfront for the first time since the highway was built in the 1960s.

“Frankly, it can allow Springfield to really dream about what it can look like,” Davey said of the project that might cost $400 million or more and take five years. “We are looking at taking down highway overpasses around the state in places like Somerville and Jamaica Plain.”

He said the state is in ongoing talks with MGM Springfield about how a construction project will work with planned casino development in Springfield’s South End. {….}

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