Photo: Cushing Village.
Will the final chapter of the saga known as Cushing Village be written tonight?
Or will the Belmont Board of Selectmen and national developer Toll Brothers go down to the last few days before striking a deal on the cusp of a late August deadline?
Answering the question will occur at the Selectmen meeting on Monday afternoon, Aug. 8, as the three-member board, will discuss and possibly vote on a series of amendments to the joint development agreement and other documents concerning the $80 million three-building project in the heart of Cushing Square.
As of this weekend, a final deal between town and developer is “close,” according to one Belmont selectman.
But, said Selectman Chair Mark Paolillo on Sunday, “I don’t know if it will be done by [Monday’s meeting.]”
“We still haven’t gotten the [joint development] documents back [from Toll Brothers],” he said.
With a deadline of Aug. 26 for both sides to agree to a purchase and sale of the municipal parking lot adjacent to Trapelo Road, time is running short in finding consensus on a final agreement between the town and Toll.
“It really is one minor but important issue that needs to be resolved,” said Paolillo, who would not reveal what is the sticking point other than said it has to do with finances. .
Paolillo said the board is “holding firm” that there will be no significant changes to the joint development agreement between the town and developer.
The Horsham, Penn.-based company did not return calls for comment.
Toll Brothers purchased the parking lot’s development rights and two adjacent land parcels from the original owner, Smith Legacy Partners, on March 14. Since 2009, Smith Legacy shepherd the project through the permitting process and appeared ready to begin construction on the structure with 115 condominiums, 230 parking spaces and nearly 40,000 sq.-ft of shops in 2013 but could never secure the financing necessary to start construction.
Belmont’s selectmen voted unanimously on March 22 to approve a one-time only extension of the purchase and sale agreement to Aug. 26 for the sale of the municipal parking lot at the corner of Williston and Trapelo roads. As part of the deal, Toll agreed to pay the town $1 million for the parking lot and an additional $150,000 in fees to complete the transfer.
In March, Bill Lovett, senior development manager at Toll’s Apartment Living subsidiary, said the extension would allow the firm to do its due diligence of the property before committing to developing the site.
Lovett told the board it is taking the project “as is” with no plans to ask for changes to the massing and basic design that the Planning Board took 18 months to create in July 2013.
In the little more than four months since the extension, a deal once described by the former owner’s attorney who dubbed the agreement “complicated.”
While it appears the selectmen and Toll Brothers are willing to take the negotiations to the board’s Aug. 22 meeting – only four days from the self-imposed deadline – Paolillo said: “both sides want this to go through.”
“I know that [Belmont Town Counsel] George [Hall] is going through the documents which may mean we’ll have something to agree to in principal on Monday,” said Paolillo.
“I really think we are going to be fine,” he said.