The Northland Project
Newton’s city council, on December 2, approved a massive new real estate project along Needham Street. The land is owned by the Northland company, hence it’s known as the “Northland Project.”
- Located along Needham Street, one of our most congested major arteries.
- A massive project – 22 acres, bigger than the Burlington mall.
- 800 rental apartment units – almost 6 times more than “Washington Place” now under construction in Newtonville. A population density 10+ times greater than Newton as a whole.
- Sixteen buildings, four of them eight stories tall. 1.4 million square feet of space.
- Large amounts of retail and commercial space.
There is huge dispute about whether the current project plan is appropriate. A referendum on March 3 will allow all voters across Newton to determine whether the current plan will prevail or whether it must be revised to make it more compatible with the needs of residents.
A “NO” vote would overrule the City Council and cancel the zoning change. A “YES” vote would approve the City Council’s decision and the project would go forward.
Vote NO on the referendum.
What’s At Stake
Our city council has approved an enormous development plan despite vocal neighborhood opposition. Other major development proposals are sure to follow in other locations.
Northland and its benefits are being oversold. Many councilors, and others, too easily accept the claims of developers that they, the developers, will help us achieve our common goals. Those claims are sometimes true, sometimes not; it’s the council that must make the judgement. We can push the council be tougher in the face of developers’ enticements.
Vote NO in order to create a better Northland project, and better city-wide development in the future.
The Big Issues
- Traffic will become worse with projects like these. They are oversold as “transit-oriented”. However, the Northland site is not walkable to any MBTA stop and a shuttle bus will not be enough. Public transit is a disaster in Massachusetts and significant change will not be coming soon.
- The project is too big, too dense, and simply too much for the majority of Newtonians.
- The fiscal impact of this project is likely to be neutral or negative. Higher taxes and/or reduced services would be the result. Have you driven on our badly maintained streets lately?
- Northland proudly tells us that with 140 units (18%) of “affordable” housing, our city will become more diverse. The 140 units are a good thing, but they have to be subsidized by the other 660 (82%) high-priced units. The affluent population will be increased a lot; the low-income population only a little, with the middle class is largely left out. We can do better.
- Northland may turn out to be a very poor landlord. Northland allowed a large New Haven complex to deteriorate so badly that 48% of children developed asthma or saw their condition worsen. The whole tenant population had to be moved out and Northland was sued by their insurer.
- We can look at close-to-home examples of other projects that show that the Northland project could be smaller and better.
To be sure, there are important features of the Northland plan that we can approve of – like high environmental building standards. But we could still have these positive things as part of a more modest plan.
Who We Are And What We Want
We say vote NO on the referendum because:
- We are FOR development. Everyone wants to see something good built at this site. But we need a size and scale that make that sense here.
- We are FOR diversity, including racial and economic diversity. And we are FOR environmental progress. RightSizing will make a better city for everybody, including newcomers of all types.
- We are FOR the rights of citizens to challenge massive changes to their city and neighborhoods that are likely to be detrimental to them.
- We are non-partisan, ecumenical, and proud to represent the RightSize position.
Vote NO on the March 3 referendum!
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