Mega-questions surround the proposed Westwood development University Station.
For example, how much of Westwood’s tax burden will the big new set of buildings absorb?
This was the main allure of this complex in its first go round.. It carried a $1.5 billion price tag when it was unveiled under the name Westwood Station. But everything has changed radically. Depression has gripped the nation since then. What will that do to the tax promise of University Station?
Exactly what will the residential profile be?
Vital question, that is because this lot off University Avenue will be a whole new residential subdivision of Westwood. There will be 750 – no, it just changed to 650 – residences, and all the accessories that go with those uses.
It will change all of Westwood.
There is no escaping that change. It might force the town to shift to a representative town meeting. There could be 650 to 1,000 new people in the 650 housing units in one contained space at University Station. In Westwood’s open town meeting, all of them could vote on all town matters: including zone changes to enlarge University Station, among other items. They would be a new force at town meetings. It is one that might view town issues far differently than the present town meeting does.
Westwood has to recalculate the tax return University Station will give the town. No one would be foolish enough to think that all the factors have stayed the same; they have to be re-explained by the owner, New England Development.
Of course there will be retail stores, office space, motels and more tax-generating buildings. But the housing could cost Westwood more than the housing is worth. School costs could run high, maybe even requiring a new school. What will the net gain of Westwood tax income actually be?
Also changed is the competition. Legacy Place in Dedham is established as is Patriot Place in Foxboro. Walpole Mall is also striving to get more tenants. So who will be the anchor stores at University Station, who will occupy the other stores?
Traffic in the existing neighborhoods near the complex will be affected; what is the new developer solution.
Many basic questions need to be tackled by developers, town officials and town residents.
Before all other questions, however, Westwood must decide whether a representative town meeting must replace the open meeting that exists now.