Selectmen Agree To Sell Municipal Parking to Cushing Village Team

Photo: The Belmont Board of Selectmen signing the agreement with Cushing Village.

Eight years after it was first proposed and 24 months since receiving the town’s go-ahead to begin construction, the developers of the proposed 164,000 square-foot Cushing Village multi-use project have the critical piece of town-owned property in its hand to possibly begin work on the long-delayed development. 

Without a representative of the development partners present for the landmark event, the Belmont Board of Selectmen voted at its Monday, Aug. 17 meeting to approve a purchase and sale agreement for the municipal parking lot at 116 Trapelo Rd. to Starr Capital Partners LLC., a Massachusetts Foreign Limited-Liability company based in Acton that registered in by the state in June.

“This is a major step forward for both Cushing Square and the town,” said Selectmen Chair Sami Baghdady. 

“It’s a long time coming,” said Selectman Mark Paolillo. 

The cost of the lot is $850,000 with total revenue to the town – including fees and permits – could reach $1.3 million, according to earlier estimates.

In addition, the town will “not tender the deed to the parking lot unless the financing closes … to give us the insurance that this project is actually going forward, and something doesn’t happen in the interim,” said Baghdady.

“I think that was key to the deal … and we did what was needed to be done,” said Selectman Jim Williams. 

According to the board, Wells Fargo Commercial is the primary lender with Cornerstone, one of the largest diversified global real estate managers, providing the secondary lending component. 

“We’re comfortable … with folks that we want to be involved with, and I’m happy that we are finally moving forward,” said Paolillo.

The agreement includes an easement to the town “in perpetuity” for 50 parking spaces in the project’s underground garage. 

In addition, the town will “not tender the deed to the parking lot unless the financing closes … to give us the insurance that this project is actually going forward, and something doesn’t happen in the interim, said Baghdady.

If the development is once again “unreasonably” delayed, the development team will be charged a monthly fee of $33,000 up to $800,000 in damages if the project ceases.

There is no information when construction will begin at the site at the corner of Common Street and Trapelo Road.

The project includes three buildings: at the municipal parking lot, at the corner of Trapelo Road and Common Street, and the intersection of Common and Belmont streets. The development will include approximately 38,000 square feet of commercial space, 115 dwellings units (60 two bedroom units and 55 one bedroom units) that includes 12 affordable units and 225 parking spaces as a result of the sale of the municipal parking lot. 

This is the second time the board has voted on selling the parking lot to a team led by Acton’s Chris Starr. In October 2010, the board voted to end negotiations with Starr’s Cushing Village Partners.

A week later, Starr files a lawsuit against the individual Selectmen alleging bad faith actions during the purchase negotiations. Six months after threatening the board, Starr and the town signed a preliminary purchase and sale agreement for a parking lot in March 2011.

It would take nearly a year before Starr submitted an application in January 2012. And it would take 18 months for the town’s Planning Board to approve a special permit to allow the project to be built in July 2013. 

The project was delayed another 25 months as Starr found it difficult to obtain financing for the project. After attempts to sell the project or find an equity partner, Starr joined forces with Cambridge-based Urban Spaces, in the spring of this year. 

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