by Jackie Gong
The Board of Aldermen approved the Austin Street lot project, a proposed multi-use apartment building in Newtonville, in a 17-6 vote Tuesday, Dec. 8.
After a 6-1 vote by the Land Use Committee Thursday, Nov. 12, the project was sent to the full board.
Dec. 7, the day before the full board’s vote, mayor Setti Warren announced that Austin Street Partners had agreed to raise the number of affordable housing units from 17 to 23 of the planned 68 homes, meaning a third of the apartments would be affordable housing instead of a quarter.
The website “Friends of Austin Street,” a group that had been pushing for the project’s approval, updated their website early in the morning Dec. 9, writing, “We won. Unbelieveable.”
Along with the apartment units, the building is planned to have 5,000 square feet of commercial retail space and a public plaza. The lot will also retain 127 public parking spots.
Students are also hopeful about the project’s impact on the community. “I definitely think [the project] will make Newtonville more profitable,” said sophomore Sam Kesselman. “It will have more appeal as a village, similar to how Newton Center has a ton of businesses and shops.”
Construction of the site is planned to begin in the summer of 2016, with gas, water, and sewer replacements, and finish near the end of 2018, with final streetscape improvements. Parking during construction includes 70 public short-term parking spaces in the Newtonville area, and free long-term parking at the Aquinas School, one mile away, with a shuttle running every 20 minutes.
Freshman Lauren Gobler, who will be a senior by the project’s completion, intends to keep an eye out for the planned building. “The project seems really big and intense, but I’m interested in seeing how it turns out,” she said.