Newtonville is set to receive some substantial upgrades. Two major development projects are due to be introduced to the area, starting with sizeable plans for Austin Street.
28 Austin Street
The same street where Dwell360 is located, many know Austin Street as the turn you make to get to the Star Market over the Mass Pike. By Summer of 2018, however, the landscape of Austin Street will have changed significantly. Approved by the Newton Board of Aldermen December of 2015, the 28 Austin Street Project is an exciting public-private partnership seeking to bring new housing and retail space to Newtonville while at the same time preserving public parking currently accessible at the Austin Street Municipal Lot.
The construction made at 28 Austin Street will include 5000 square feet of new retail and restaurant space, ideal for small and unique shops or destination dining similar to what can currently be found on Newtonville’s Walnut Street just around the corner. It includes plans to add a shared street and plaza referred to as Philip Bram Way that offers public seating and a fountain, easily closable for Newtonville Village Day and other special community events.
The 28 Austin Street project also features a housing increase for the area. Plans include 68 one or two bedroom rental apartments ranging from 750-1100 square feet. Twenty three of the units will be affordable and available by lottery for those qualify. All residents will have access to elevators, underground parking, and on site amenities. Current estimates suggest that applications for the affordable housing units will likely start being accepted Spring of 2018.
Currently, 28 Austin Street is home to a lot of public parking spaces. Upon the project’s completion, the area will still provide over 120 public parking spaces. During construction, the current plan for public parking includes 50 short term public parking spots at the current lot’s location, 20 spaces in the Star Market parking lot, and free long term parking at the Aquinas School with a no-cost shuttle running to and from every 20 minutes.
In conjunction with the 28 Austin Street Project, Walnut Street is slated for some improvements that further contribute the the revitalization of Newtonville. While the plans for this aspect are not fully formed as of yet, the goal is to improve traffic flow, maintain available parking, and improve safety and ease of movement for pedestrians and cyclists. The street’s overall appeal will further improve through impressive streetscape design and light design in addition to the other upgrades.
The planned timeline for the 28 Austin Street Project currently projects work to start in Summer of 2016 with replacements for Austin Street’s gas, water, and sewer lines. This is expected to take 4-6 months. Major project construction commences Spring of 2017 and is expected to run 13-15 months, with completion targeted for Spring of 2018. Though it could change, Walnut Street improvements are set to take 4-6 months and begin in Summer of 2018.
The project as a whole is said to have the potential to greatly strengthen the city’s local economy as well as improve on the housing opportunities offered for residents. The City of Newton plan to continue to engage the community throughout construction and provide updates as they become available.
Washington and Walnut Street Development
The second major change proposed for Newtonville lies on the corner Washington and Walnut Streets. Currently home to a large building containing establishments such as Karoun Restaurant, Boston Ballet School, and other businesses, the eight buildings and 10 second floor apartments could soon be replaced. Local developer Robert Korff recently introduced plans to build a six story, mixed-use development with stores, offices, a restaurant, and 151 one and two bedroom apartments, 26 of which would be affordable housing.
While the plans still must go before the City Council for approval, Korff presented his plans to an audience of over 200 local residents in early February. Many residents noted concern for increased traffic congestion between the Austin Street project and Korff’s proposed plans as well as a desire for more parking to be considered. At the current junction, the plans themselves are not concrete and could see additions before all is said and done.
One concern also cited at the introduction of the plans was the height of the building, proposed to be six stories when the area is zoned for five. Korff is open to compromise and is looking to have the end product be something that will be not only beneficial for the area but will meet his objectives as well. He cites a growing need for housing diversity in the neighborhood, so suggested in exchange for the additional story he could offer more affordable housing options in the buildings.
Time will tell how the plans will continue to unfold for Walnut Street, but Newtonville will soon see the Austin Street project come to life. One thing is for sure: Newtonville continues to grow!