The Islington Center Task Force was created by the Board of Selectmen in September 2015 to study this village center and to facilitate meaningful discussions about opportunities and challenges. A Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued in May 2016 to encourage the comprehensive redevelopment of public and private properties in Islington Center. The Task Force is comprised of 14 representatives from various Town boards and committees, Islington neighborhood residents, Islington business owners, and Town staff. More than a dozen Task Force meetings have provided an avenue for transparent, respectful and open discussions about the positive redevelopment of this vital section of our Town.
For more than two years, various boards and committees, including the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, Finance and Warrant Commission, Conservation Commission, and Islington Center Task Force, studied the Islington Center Redevelopment Proposal submitted by Petruzziello Properties in response to the Town’s RFP. Thoughtful and constructive discussions over this long period of time led to the development of a comprehensive project, which was carefully designed to benefit Islington Center and the Town as a whole for years to come.
The Islington Center Redevelopment Project involves eight parcels of land along Washington Street in the area of the East Street/School Street intersection. Three warrant articles related to the project received the required 2/3 vote in favor by Town Meeting on May 30, 2018. Articles 11, 12, and 13 allow for the disposition of land, funding for town improvements, and a zoning map amendment.
Four of the parcels were originally owned by Petruzziello Properties LLC and four were owned by the Town. The project was designed to include an anchor CVS store, a mix of restaurant, retail and other commercial uses, 18 two-bedroom condominiums with underground parking, a new home for the Mothers Morning Out (MMO) Pre-school, new municipal parking lot and a renovated and expanded Wentworth Hall to house the Islington Branch Library, Youth & Family Services Office, various Recreation programs and community events.
The development plans were created and refined by means of a comprehensive public engagement process over a 2½ year period, and the project received support from the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, Finance & Warrant Commission, Conservation Commission, Library Board of Trustees, Library Department, Youth & Family Services Department, Recreation Department, and Mothers Morning Out (MMO) Pre-school Board of Trustees.
There are numerous benefits to be derived from the Islington Center Redevelopment Project. These include revitalization of deteriorating properties, a significant increase in annual property tax revenues to the Town of Westwood, transportation infrastructure improvements, stormwater improvements, sustainable design and renewable energy elements, an opportunity to attract new retail and restaurant uses, and a chance for the preservation and reuse of the historic Blue Hart Tavern. The value of town-owned property in Islington Center is projected to increase from an effective value of approximately $615,500 in 2018 to approximately $2,769,000 upon project completion. Annual tax revenues for the parcels involved in the redevelopment project are projected to increase from just over $62,000 to approximately $481,000 per year. After adjusting for service and operation costs, the net annual revenue will be just shy of $424,000 per year.
An additional project benefit relates to affordable housing. Westwood, like all towns in Massachusetts, must list a minimum of 10% of its housing stock on the state's Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI) in order to obtain protection against unfriendly MGL Ch. 40B developments. Thanks in large part to the construction of University Station, the town reached this 10% threshold in 2013, and today enjoys substantial leverage and control over future development. The SHI will be recalculated following the 2020 Census. Prior to that recalculation, Westwood must find a way to list at least 9 affordable housing units on the SHI. The Islington Center Redevelopment Project presents an opportunity for the Town to add 12 units to the SHI, with 10 of those units to be added prior to the start of any construction.
Town Meeting approved all three warrant articles to allow this important project to move forward. The first article, which was sponsored by the Board of Selectmen, authorized the Board of Selectmen to enter into a Land Disposition Agreement with the developer for the exchange of property along Washington Street in accordance with the Islington Center Redevelopment Project plans. The Land Disposition Agreement allows the Town to transfer four (4) parcels of land to the developer (Petruzziello Properties) and to receive back one (1) parcel of land with a new parking lot and building site, plus a total of $2.2 Million.
The Finance and Warrant Commission Report and Recommendations
This article was sponsored by the Board of Selectmen and received the required 2/3 vote in favor. Article 11 authorized the board of Selectmen to enter a Land Disposition Agreement with the developer for the mutual transfer of property.
The Land Disposition Agreement (LDA) call for three phases of property transfer and development as follows:
Town transfers the municipal parking lot to Petruzziello
Petruzziello files for Subsidized Housing Inventory (SHI) listing of 321 Washington Street
Town designs and bids work for Wentworth Hall
Petruzziello constructs CVS parking lots
Town transfers the Wentworth parcel to Petruzziello
Petruzziello transfers new Town Parcel to the Town
Town moves Wentworth Hall, renovates and constructs
Petruzziello renovates former CVS building and adds new space for MMO
Town transfers the ICC parcel and East Street parcel to Petruzziello
Petruzziello files for SHI listing of two additional apartments
The second article was also sponsored by the Board of Selectmen and received the required 2/3 vote in favor, Article 12 authorized design and construction funding for the relocation, redevelopment, and expansion of Wentworth Hall. These expenses will be partially offset by the $2.2 Million
In addition to the two warrant articles sponsored by the Board of Selectmen, the Planning Board sponsored a zoning amendment article related to the Islington Center Redevelopment Project. Like the first two articles, Article 13 was approved by 2/3 vote. The Planning Board warrant article proposed an amendment to the Official Zoning Map to change the zoning designation of two parcels of land needed for the proposed redevelopment project. This article rezoned properties located at 9 School Street (shown on Assessor’s Parcel 23 as Lot 161) and 277A Washington Street (shown on Assessor’s Parcel 23 as Lot 165) from Single Residence A (SRA) to Local Business B (LBB) and included both of these parcels within the Flexible Multiple Use Overlay District 6 (FMUOD6/Washington Street Business District) overlay district. At the time of rezoning, the 9 School Street parcel contained the former Westwood Tailor Shop building and was also the temporary location for storage of the historic Blue Hart Tavern, while a single-family residence existed at 277A Washington Street.
This zoning map amendment expanded the boundary of the LBB Zoning District and the FMUOD6 Overlay District to include all of the land involved in the proposed Islington Center Redevelopment Project, which was approved by the Planning Board for an FMUOD Special Permit, conditional upon Town Meeting approval of the zoning amendment.
The FMUOD special permit calls for the two parcels that were rezoned by Article 13 to be redeveloped to contain a portion of a new CVS retail building, a portion of a new addition to Wentworth Hall, parking associated with the CVS building as well as municipal parking, and an open space area which will eventually be owned by the Town and maintained as a buffer between the commercial district and the abutting residential properties.
For all other videos related to the Islington Center Project, visit the Westwood Media Center website at https://westwoodmediacenter.tv/