Chamber News

Newton
March 03, 2021 Likes Comments

More help for businesses and nonprofits

One year ago today, Newton residents voted decisively in favor of the Northland Newton project.

The contentious ballot referendum mattered a lot and not just because it gave the green light to a project that will attract new businesses, new jobs, new tax revenue and vitality to our city.
 
It also delivered a clear message that Newton residents wanted to live in a city that is more welcoming and part of the solution to the region's housing crisis and climate change.
 
The project consists of 14 buildings on just under 23 acres at the corner of Needham and Oak Streets. It includes 800 apartments (including 140 affordable units); 180,000 square feet of office space, 115,000 square feet of retail and community space and 10 acres of open space. Amenities will include free shuttles to the Green Line for all, parks and cutting edge environmental standards.
 
And in spite of the pandemic, the project remains on schedule, with some demolition to begin in a few weeks. All told, it will take about three years before this game-changing project is complete.
 
Two Dreams come true
 
That successful Northland referendum was a victory for a broad coalition of housing, environmental and business groups as well as local leaders (including Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller) who united behind the belief that the project would be good for Newton’s future.
 
It was also a big deal for Northland -- the 50-year-old Newton company that had been laying the groundwork for the project for decades -- and for its CEO and founder Larry Gottesdiener, who says he plans to live at the Needham Street development once it's complete.
 
This week, Gottesdiener had a new reason to celebrate.
 
He’s just completed the purchase of the WNBA's Atlanta Dream, along with two inspiring women: former Dream player Renee Montgomery and Gottesdiener’s Northland colleague Suzanne Abair.
 
Yes, this is the same team that had been owned by former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the Republican from Georgia, who was forced to sell her share of the team after clashing with WNBA players over issues of racial and social justice.
 
Loeffler routinely denounced Black Lives Matter , calling it a “divisive organization based on Marxist principles” that “seeks to destroy the American principles.”
 
Dream players, and players across the WNBA, responded by wearing shirts supporting Raphael Warnock, who went on to narrowly defeat Loeffler in January’s run-offs, leading to Democrats taking control of the US Senate.
 
Gottesdiener made it clear last week that he doesn't share Loeffler’s views.
 
“The players of the Dream refused to 'shut up and dribble,'” Gottesdiener said, referring to the way FOX News commentator Laura Ingraham’s once scolded LeBron James for "talking politics."
 
“They found their collective voice and the world listened," he added. "We are inspired by these brave women who navigated sports and activism in the midst of a pandemic, and we want to celebrate and honor them.”
 
Gottesdiener (who is now Northland’s chairman) may be moving to Needham Street. But don’t look for the Dream to follow.
 
He told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he has no plans to relocate the franchise.
 
Speaking of Northland's supporters
 
Members of "Yes for Newton's Future," the advocacy group that organized the Northland campaign, have endorsed Bryan Barash and Madeline Ranalli in Newton's March 16 special city council election.
 
Meanwhile in Wellesley last night, voters reelected Colette Aufranc and elected Ann-Mara Lanza to the Select Board. They also approved a nonbinding referendum to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The Swellesley Report has more.
 
More help for business in latest stimulus package
 
Millions of additional dollars for businesses and nonprofits are included in the latest version of President Biden’s new stimulus plan which is now headed to the Senate.
 
The bill approved by the House this weekend provides an additional $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program as well as an additional $15 billion for the SBA's Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance program, reports Andy Medici at the BBJ.
 
Also included: A new $25 billion grant program for restaurants that can be used for payroll, mortgage, rent, utilities, supplies, food and beverage expenses and operational expenses, among other items.
 
There’s an added $1.5 billion for the SBA’s shuttered venue program, even though, for some baffling reason, the agency has yet to invite venue operators to apply for the first round of that program, using funds approved in December.
 
Changes would also open the program to some nonprofits that were not previously eligible, Medici reported.
 
Extension needed for current PPP
 
Yesterday our chamber joined other business groups across the nation in signing a letter urging Congress to extend the deadline for the current round of the PPP.
 
The program is due to close March 31 but just under half of the program’s $284 billion is still waiting to be disbursed.
 
Extending the deadline through the end of the year is consistent with President Joe Biden’s efforts to open the federal program to a wider mix of underserved small businesses, including t hose owned by people of color and sole entrepreneurs.

Goldberg: Restaurants are playing by the rules
 
Bay State restaurants have overwhelmingly been following Gov. Charlie Baker’s pandemic related protocols, state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg told lawmakers yesterday.
 
State inspectors with the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission visited more than 21,000 licensed alcohol businesses since August and found 98% in compliance with protocols.
 
While fewer patrons have been dining indoors and bars remain closed, the online sale of alcohol was up 300 percent Goldberg also reported. (AP story here)

Comings and goings
  • The Needham Sheraton is going on the auction block on March 23. The 247-room hotel has been closed throughout most of pandemic and sits on a very steep 4.65 acres. A Dallas-based private equity manager recently acquired the commercial loan.

 

  • But happy to note that Needham’s Proud Mary Gifts is expanding. They’ll be moving to a larger space, the site of the former Pollywogs at 1024 Great Plain Ave this spring.
  • JLL recently completed the sale of the Stop & Shop on Pleasant Street in Watertown for $35.5 million, reports Boston Real Estate Times. The 69,000-square-foot grocery store, which has been there for more than 25 years, recently extended its long term lease.
And we’re off (and feeding people)…
 
150 meals were distributed at the Centre Street Food Pantry yesterday kicking off the Nourishing Newton food assistance program, a state-funded partnership between the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber and the Rotary Club of Newton to support independent restaurants and assist those struggling with food insecurity within the city.
Thistle and Leek, Barry’s Village Deli and Bella Boca Café delivered the first round of orders, with Aquitaine Chestnut Hill, Ellana’s Kitchen and O’Hara’s is scheduled to stock up the Newton Food Panty later this week.
 
Over 30 Newton restaurants in total have signed on to participate in the program, which will run through the spring and is anticipated to supply close to 10,000 meals via food pantries and other service organizations in three communities, while distributing $175,000 among the restaurant partners.

There’s still opportunity for Newton-based owner-operated restaurants to participate (click here for more information and to apply).
 
The Nourishing Wellesley program (also administered by our chamber in partnership with the Town of Wellesley) and Restaurants Brookline (administered by the Brookline Chamber in partnership with the Brookline Food Bank) are both launching in the coming weeks. (Wellesley-based owner-operated restaurants can apply to participate at this link.)
 
That's it for now. See you tomorrow, right?

President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.
Dine out. Take out. Shop locally. Mask up. And tip generously.

 

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