It took several years in the making, including the threat of lawsuits, a long series of delays and nearly a half-a-year of continuous negotiations, but at 8 p.m. Monday, March 28, the Belmont Board of Selectmen signed a purchase and sale agreement with a development team headed by resident Chris Starr for the municipal parking lot adjacent to Trapelo and Williston roads.
The lot at 116 Trapelo Rd. near to the Starbucks is a keystone in the blueprint of Cushing Village, a proposed 225,000 square foot development at the corner of Common Street and Trapelo Road comprised of an underground garage, retail on the ground and first floors with up to two stories of housing totaling nearly 150 units.
Ralph Jones, chairman of the board of selectmen, said he drives by the "empty store fronts and vacant lots" everyday and hopes that a development that meets everyone's needs can be accomplished.
Starr, president of Smith Legacy Partners, who is partnering with Oaktree Development to make up the Cushing Village development team, told Belmont Patch that they would take the next 60 days to conduct tests on the soil at the site as part of their due diligence.
"It's a project with a lot of moving parts but we are committed to moving an application to the Planning Board," said Starr.
And it will be before the Planning Board that abutters, especially those who live on Horne Road, will take their concerns on the project's "size, scale and mass," according to Don Becker, a Horne Road homeowner.
With the Planning Board focusing on the those three issues, "it will result in minimizing the deleterious impact to the town and enhance the character of the square and maintain the residential character of (Belmont)," he said.
He points to the development team's initial design plans with the highest point of the project at the corner of Common and Trapelo that tapers down to two stories along the edges of the development as an example of wise development.
"What we don't want is for it to look like a small Rowes Wharf in the center of Cushing Square," Becker said.