University Station, formerly Westwood Station, is back before the Westwood Planning Board.
Developers have appeared twice at board meetings. They will meet again July 24.
While some details have been provided on the project, more are still to be revealed as to what University Station will involve.
It will involve everything.
Everything was at question when the original mega project – all $1.5 billion of it – crashed. It involved more than 1.35 million square feet of retail space, 1.5 million square feet of office space and 1,000 condos (later changed to apartments). Two big hotels were proposed.
State officials said in January 2010 they could spend as much as $55 million for infrastructure; is that offer still good?
Developers had trouble assembling all the land; is that solved?
Neighbors in Canton and Westwood had serious reservations on how the new development planned to route its traffic. How is the traffic pattern that is now proposed?
University Station is an ideal site: it is at the junction of Rte. I-95, Rte. 128 and includes the Amtrak station, but will there have to be changes to any of those rail or road routes?
How much tax revenue will actually be realized?
How many housing units will the new plans show and will they be condos or apartments; what is their price range?
Should Westwood think about changing to representative town government if University Station citizens have power to sway votes at the existing open town meeting?
If zone changes seem likely, given the new setup, what will they be?
These and dozens more questions will attend the resumption of building plans that will change Westwood as it is now into the Westwood of the future.
Any notion that this will all be a simple rerun of the first incarnation of this mega-development is foolish. Things have changed.
Partners for the project include New England Development, Eastern Real Estate, National Development, Charles River Realty Investors and Clarion Partners.
They will answer all the questions now, and they will occupy a radically different position with the new project.
Back in the beginning, this development was on a fast track and carried with it the hope for Westwood relieving itself of all its big tax needs by taking its levy from the golden calf, Westwood Station.
Then, money flowed freely through international and local markets. Now money is tight.
Then, plenty of retailers needed space. Now retailers are less ready to pull the trigger on a new spot.
Same with office space, less is needed. Hotel space paints the same picture.
Condos or apartments, which will it be?
Recession – or depression – has thrown out all the basic facts about the new development. None of the things Westwood took for granted when Westwood Station made its presentation years ago makes sense now.
Westwood must look closely at everything. University Station is wholly new.