Chamber News

August 25, 2020 Likes Comments

The Globe's message to Newton

The Boston Globe's editorial board is challenging us to follow our better angels.

Will we listen?
 
In an editorial Sunday, “Tear down this paper wall, Newton,” editors urged the Newton City Council to “correct a historic mistake” by overhauling the zoning rules that “for almost a century, have outlawed lower-cost, multifamily housing in much of the city."
 
The editorial comes as the council is engaged in a years-long process of rewriting of the city’s zoning code.
 
While there’s no final draft and a vote is more than 18 months away, some are already stoking the usual fears about harming residential “character” and declining property values.
 
But the editorial argues that -- amidst concerns for racial equality, economic justice and climate change -- attitudes are evolving. The board points to the Northland referendum in March (where voters approved the 800-apartment project by a decisive 16 point margin) as proof.
 
“Newton’s leaders ought to take the March referendum results as a bellwether of a heartening shift: The longstanding consensus against denser, more affordable housing in America’s suburbs is beginning to crack.”
 
It’s fascinating (and, in my view, welcome) that New England’s largest newspaper (which also enthusiastically endorsed Northland too) is closely watching our zoning reform process.
 
Other than Boston, the Globe doesn’t publish many editorials focused on specific municipalities and their policies.
 
But they've published several documenting Newton’s housing battles, all with the same core message: Newton, like many liberal suburban communities, has a history of exclusionary housing policies. And this is our moment to rectify that.
 
Child-care centers can increase class sizes

Here’s good news for parents looking for child care and day care providers who are struggling to keep their businesses afloat.
 
Child care providers will be allowed to go back to their pre-pandemic classroom sizes starting next week, under new state guidance.
WBUR has the details about this and other changes.
 
On the other hand, if you’re thinking about opening a child care center now, you’re going to have to wait.

Office leases are getting shorter
 
Office market demand nationwide has been increasingly favoring shorter-term lease deals, a trend that complicates how much buildings are worth, BisNow reports.
 
The shift may have as much do with coworking as COVID. Tenants prefer flexibility. But lease terms can impact a building's valuation.
 
“Short-term leases can make a building more valuable by allowing landlords to raise rents and fill space that may otherwise have sat empty. But when landlords try to finance or sell a building, they face institutional capital sources that want the assurance of long-term cash flow,” writes BisNow
 
On the other hand, the BBJ’s Lucia Maffei and Catherine Carlock, report that some local technology companies are wondering “if they even need a physical office” while others (including Facebook) continue building and looking for space in Greater Boston.
 
Sweet Basil expanding, Nero finally opens
 
Needham restaurateur David Becker is opening a second location of his popular Sweet Basil Restaurant in Waltham, reports Boston Restaurant Talk.
 
Becker (not a chamber member and I've never understood why) actually had a pop-up version of Sweet Basil in the old Balani space (which he also owned) on Moody Street. In addition to Sweet Basil, Becker runs Juniper in Wellesley.
 
28 Austin is, of course, the site of that once controversial mixed use development that, contrary to predictions back in 2015, did not lead to Armageddon.
 
Toy retailer Henry Bear’s Park will also operate there.
 
Judge unlikely to rule against eviction moratorium
 
A federal court judge said Monday that landlords who have sued the state over its eviction moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic are unlikely to prevail on their claim that the law unconstitutionally infringes on their lease agreements with tenants, reports State House News (paywall).
 
Three landlords argued that the moratorium breaches the contracts clause of the Constitution and violates their right to petition the judiciary, their First Amendment right to free speech, and their right to compensation for unlawful land taking under the Fifth Amendment.
 
U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf said the Legislature is afforded broad "deference," as long as its actions can be defended as "reasonable and appropriate means" to accomplish a significant public purpose.
 
The Legislature passed and Gov. Charlie Baker signed the moratorium in April.
 
Arguments may take place next week, along with a motion to dismiss from the attorney general.
 
Not enough room on Zoom
 
Five months ago, very few folks knew what Zoom is. Yesterday, the platform experienced disruptions, reportedly due to the influx of thousands of grade school, high school and college students nationwide who are relying on the video conferencing technology for the first day of classes.
 
The company says it has fixed the problem. Globe story.
 
Kennedy, Markey to discuss immigration
 
Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Rep. Joe Kennedy and Sen. Ed Markey will participate in an Immigration Town Hall tomorrow (Weds. at 4:30 p.m.) moderated by Paul Watanabe, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institute for Asian American Studies, UMass Boston. Register here.
 
Pride painting
 
They’re Jersey barriers, but with a Newton flair.
 
The nonprofit Newton Community Pride and several city departments have been working together to spruce up those big cement barriers that have helped many of the city’s restaurants offer street dining in spots where sidewalk space is tight.
 
The city provided most of the barriers. Sherwin Williams and Swartz Ace Hardware donated paint and supplies. Newton Community Pride organized the volunteer artists. The Newton TAB shares photos here.
 
Really big shoe (industry)
 
Rockport’s corporate HQ is in West Newton.
 
Clarks is in Waltham. New Balance in Allston.
 
Alden, Vibram, Saucony, Reebok, Puma, Converse, Keds and Sperry are located in the Bay State too.
 
Ever wonder why?
 
Be back tomorrow.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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