Chamber News

October 08, 2020 Likes Comments

Riverside moves forward

The proposed transit-oriented development at Riverside Station took a big step towards reality Tuesday when the Newton City Council’s Land Use Committee approved the project’s special permits, 8-0.

The years-in-the-making project would include 582 apartments (including 103 affordable units) along with 253,827 square feet of office space, 150 hotel rooms and 38,895 square feet of ground-floor commercial.
The next, and typically final step for the project, would be a vote before the full City Council on Oct. 19.
Still unresolved is a dispute between Mark Development’s Robert Korff and Woodland Golf Club that was the subject of a page one story in the Globe last week.
At Tuesday’s committee meeting City Councilor Lenny Gentile, who is also a Woodland member, sought to clarify the golf club’s concerns and disagreed with the way the Globe and my Friday newsletter characterized it.
Two years into the process, Woodland presented a lengthy list of concerns it had with the project this summer. But Gentile said the club is only focused on two issues: water supply and water runoff and fears the club would be blamed by neighbors for construction noise.
“Woodland is not interested in a battle. They actually support the project,” Gentile said, adding that if the water and noise concerns are addressed, “there will be peace, kumbaya and all those good things.”
Gentile said “one last meeting” is planned between both parties soon.
You can watch Gentile’s full comments here. The list of concerns Woodland sent to Mark Development, along with the developer’s response, are here.
The Riverside project would net the City of Newton $1.65 million annually in new tax revenue.
Even tighter rules coming for H-1B visas
It’s hard to believe there’s any immigration rules left to toughen, but Trump administration officials said this week they will impose further restrictions to the H-1B visa program that businesses use to hire foreign workers for specialized occupations, a move that U.S. technology companies have fiercely opposed, the Washington Post reports.
The changes will make companies pay higher salaries to the workers, tighten eligibility rules and shorten the time some workers can be in the country from three to one year.
Solution possible for Mass Pike rebuild
It looks like the stalemate over the $1 billion plan to rebuild the Mass Turnpike in Allston is easing after Boston University offered up land to accommodate the very tight area referred to as "the throat."
The latest proposal would squeeze in the eight-lane turnpike, four-lane Soldiers Field Road, two adjacent rail lines, and a riverfront recreational path all at grade level. (Boston Globe, CommonWealth)
Free meters continue, overtime parking doesn't
Newton officials have decided to continue offering free parking meters, for now, but will soon begin enforcing other parking regulations.
Starting Oct. 19, the Newton Police Department will begin enforcement again on resident permit streets, and one and two hour parking, Jenna Fisher at Newton Patch reports. It's not decided when enforcement of parking meters will resume.
Needham is offering free parking through the end of 2020 but has been enforcing the two-hour parking limit to ensure spaces turnover for shoppers.
Wellesley has also suspended parking meter use.
BC’s new hard sciences building on track
Construction of the Schiller Institute – the centerpiece of Boston College’s efforts to expand its programming in the hard sciences, with an eye on joining the nation’s top research institutions – is on schedule to be complete by next December, the BC Heights reports.
The 156,500-square-foot, five story building is part of a $300 million investment BC plans to make in the sciences, including new faculty and new courses in applied sciences, data science, and global public health.
The building is named for Newton native and BC alum Phil Schiller, an executive at Apple, and his wife, Kim Gassett-Schiller who launched the initiative in 2017 with a $25 million gift.
The Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society will include an open-design wet laboratory space. Faculty from the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, earth and environmental sciences, psychology, and neuroscience will be able to use the space collaboratively. The building will also have a cleanroom—a hyper-clean room designed for scientific research—as well as office space, the Heights reports.
What might come, what just arrived on Galen Street
A reminder that Boston Development Group and Elkus Manfredi architects will present their vision for proposed, five story, bio tech center on Galen Street just outside of Watertown Square tonight (Thursday) at 6:30 p.m., via Zoom. (Watertown News story here.)
Speaking of Galen Street, a new Chinese-American restaurant called Number One Taste has opened at 39 Galen Street, right across from the proposed project, according to Boston Restaurant Talk. The same owners operate locations on Trapelo Road in Belmont and Mass. Ave. in East Arlington.
Effort to support our restaurants launching next week
The Newton-Needham Dining Collaborative, the chamber’s restaurant group, will be launching a marketing campaign next week designed to encourage and reward folks for dining locally.
The committee is seeking financial support to help offset costs of this marketing efforts, including prizes for the upcoming “Keep Making Memories Contest.” If you’re able to help, donations of any amount will be greatly appreciated, go here for more information and to contribute. Thanks.
Be back tomorrow.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber


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