Photo: The proposed Cushing Village.
Representatives of the development team of Cushing Village will be before the Belmont Planning Board on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 8 a.m. to make their third request to extend the special permit which allows it to begin construction on the long-delayed site.
Cushing Village’s development partners Smith Legacy Partners and Cambridge-based Urban Spaces was granted approval to construct a three-building complex comprising 115 apartments, 36,000 square feet of retail/commercial space and a garage complex with 230 parking spaces back in August 2013. At 164,000 sq.-ft., it would be Belmont’s biggest commercial/housing project in decades.
The head of the Belmont Board of Selectmen believes giving the development team even more time is the most prudent action to take.
“The extension is needed because the Cushing Village Special Permit expires on Nov. 19,” said Sami Baghdady, Chair of the Board of Selectmen and the former chair of the Planning Board when it approved the initial special permit.
“The requested six-month extension will ensure that the Special Permit does not expire as the developer prepares his site work. It is appropriate that the developer’s lender would want the Special Permit extended out of caution,” said Baghdady.
“However, this extension should not delay the closing on the financing and the purchase of the municipal parking lot in Cushing Square,” he added. The Selectmen voted on Aug. 18 to sell the parking lot to the team for $850,000. The town still is waiting for documents from the team on closing the deal.
Baghdady said despite the now continuous delays and postponements by the developers, “starting from scratch would not be productive since that will delay any project on the eyesore property for years.”
“For the sake of the local businesses, and the local residents who have endured so much, we need this project to proceed as permitted,” said Baghdady.
The Planning Board approved an initial 30-day extension in August and a two-month deferral in September. The first delay was requested after the team submitted a large and complicated package of finance documents that needed to be analyzed by Aug. 19, the two-year anniversary of the initial approval.
If approved, the third extension would likely see the project delayed by nearly 30 months from the time the special permit was initially awarded by the Planning Board in 2013.
“Shame on them,” Planning Board Chair Mike Battista said of Smith Legacy and Urban Spaces back in August. “They had two years to get it together and, at the 11th hour, they send the selectmen this voluminous package that needs to be waded through, town counsel must review and due diligence performed on the financing.”