Chamber News

August 21, 2020 Likes Comments

End of an era for your chamber

For nearly two decades, your chamber has been located in a small, admittedly unimpressive, two-story building on Needham Street.

Folks with long memories will remember it as the Good Vibrations building (the record store, not the present-day “sex-positive retailer”). Up until very recently we told everyone looking for us: “We’re above the AAA in Marshalls' Plaza.”
 
Last year, AAA moved down the street to Newton Nexus. Marshalls relocated across the street.
 
And in ten days we’re closing our office at 281 Needham Street too.
 
We’re happily moving to make way for the Northland Newton Development Project, which will span 28 acres stretching along Needham Street, Oak Street to the Upper Falls Greenway and provide much needed residential, retail, office and green space.
 
While the move certainly marks the end of an era (with a lot of memories for the chamber team, interns, directors and various committee members), we can’t wait to see Northland’s vision realized.
 
And while your chamber has had numerous office locations throughout Newton in our 105-year history, for the first time ever, we’re going to have a physical location in Needham!
 
Starting Sept. 1, in partnership with Staples Connect, we’ll have a small office at the recently re-imagined retail store (with coworking, podcasting and community spaces) at 163 Highland Ave.
 
Most of our chamber team will continue to work remotely, but we’ll hold office hours at Staples Connect in order to provide important services, including certificate of origin processing, with the goal of finding a larger, permanent space in 2021.
 
“The Newton-Needham Regional Chamber has been a tremendous partner, especially supportive as we transformed the store from Staples to Staples Connect earlier this year,” says Patrick Wellen, director of new services at Staples, “We're excited they'll have a presence in our store and are looking forward to continuing our great partnership, serving the Newton and Needham communities.”
 
A few notes related to our move
  • The chamber’s new mailing address (please update your records!) is PO Box 590132, Newton Centre, MA 02459.
  • Our new physical location is at 163 Highland Ave, Needham (next to the Print & Design Studio to the left when you enter Staples Connect), by appointment only.
  • And, finally, as part of our downsizing - there’s a number of items we won’t be bringing with us (click here) to see if anything might be of use to you, your business or nonprofit.
Ugh. Not again, Newton!
 
Here’s yet another example of why Newton has a reputation for being a very unwelcoming place for developers.
 
Last month, after many hearings and a thorough vetting, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved Dunstan East, an exciting mixed-use project that would transform a dilapidated block in West Newton into 234 desperately-needed apartments (59 permanently affordable) along with 8,500 square feet of ground floor commercial and retail space and 290-underground parking spaces.
 
As part of the project Mark Development agreed to provide $3.4 million in community benefits, including a major clean-up and other improvements (including a boardwalk) to the unsightly Cheese Cake Brook, an affordability subsidy, energy efficiency enhancements, needed bus shelters and other transportation improvements, plus a sewer upgrade.
 
Then this Wednesday three abutters filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts Superior Court to stop the project.
 
As always seems to be the case in these situations, opponents say they don’t object to development, just this development.
 
Given that Dunstan East was approved under (and by all indications complies with) the state’s 40B affordable housing law, it’s doubtful the lawsuit has any chance of succeeding.
 
But, once again, the cost of another Newton housing project will be driven up by legal costs and construction will likely be delayed. (Newton Patch has more here.)
 
And -- whether it's applicable in this instance or not -- this lawsuit will reinforce Newton's already tarnished reputation as a progressive community that has a "long history of refusing to integrate [even while they] vocally support civil rights movements." (See this article that will appear in Sunday's Globe).
 
Senior living left out of COVID reporting
 
As COVID-19 ravaged state nursing homes, state government ramped up testing and instituted reporting requirements.
 
But independent senior living facilities have generally been left out and – in spite of a law requiring reporting -- the state does not collect infection rates. Shira Schoenberg at CommonWealth explains.
 
Cyrus Tree clarification
 
A quick clarification on my update yesterday about plans to open Newton’s second marijuana shop, Cypress Tree on Elliot St. in Newton.
 
While, as reported by the Newton TAB, CEO Victor Chiang hopes construction completes in November. But he’ll still need to go through Cannabis Control Commission for final licensing steps and review. So the opening date is more realistically early 2021. And, of course, no one knows what kinds of COVID related delays might occur.
 
Book Fair looking for $upport
 
The New England Mobile Book Fair is asking for the community’s support as it seeks a new home for the long-running Newton book store, The Globe reports.
 
“The Book Fair needs to move to a location that has viable foot traffic and any donation to the campaign will contribute to the cash needed to move, restock, take care of our staff and take us into the future,” said owner Tom Lyons said.
 
Lyons has launched a fundraising campaign, with an ambitious goal of $75,000. Just under $4,000 had been raised as of last night.
 
What you need to know about tax free weekend
 
A reminder that Massachusetts’ annual sales tax holiday is next weekend (Aug. 29-30). The Department of Revenue has posted rules and regulations here and FAQ’s here.
 
Please dine and shop locally this weekend too! And take good care.
 
Be back on Tuesday.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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