Selectmen Set March 22 As D-Day for Cushing Village Developer to Move on Project

Photo: Cushing Village.

The Belmont Board of Selectmen Monday warned the developer of Cushing Village that unless it sees “significant progress” towards construction of the three building, residential/retail/parking project at its March 22 meeting, it would be unlikely to extend a purchase and sale agreement for a critical parcel of town-owned land that expires March 28.

“It would be very difficult for us to approve an extension … unless the developer comes back with something new, something that gives us absolute security that [the] project will proceed and go forward and not lag for years and months,” said Selectmen Chair Sami Baghdady of the 167,000 square foot project approved by the Planning Board when he was chair back in July 2013. 

After cancelling a scheduled meeting to update Belmont elected officials on the status of its long-troubled development at its Monday, March 14 meeting, the board pointed to its next public meeting, on March 22, as the final opportunity for Chris Starr, the managing partner of Smith Legacy Partners which owns two parcels and is seeking to purchase the municipal parking lot adjacent to Trapelo Road and abuts the Starbucks cafe in Cushing Square.

Starr told the town he will attend next Tuesday night’s meeting to be held at Town Hall where he will “make a presentation,” said Baghdady.

“Something has to be done by March 28,” said Baghdady

Under a long-standing agreement, Smith Legacy was to gain title to the lot for $850,000, but only when it secured a complete financing deal. It has been the inability to nail down the money needed to begin construction that has delayed the project for the past 958 days.  

Baghdady said if Starr does not convince the board the project is moving forward, it is likely the board will revoke the purchase and sale agreement and retain ownership of the parcel. It would be unlikely that the expired P&S agreement could be revived unless that town issues a new request for proposal for the municipal parking lot and with it the Special Permit – which took 18 months to craft – would also expire.

On March 29, Starr would only have ownership to two small parcels – the former CVS building at Common and Belmont and the building at the intersection of Trapelo and Common that once housed the S.S. Pierce store, “and that could be potentially two more moderately-sized projects.” 

With the P&S taken off the table, the town will keep nearly $700,000 in penalties that Starr has been paying the town over the past two years in option payments. 

“I want to reassure everybody that Belmont is being protected. While we want to see development in Cushing Square, we want to support the local businesses, we know what the residents have gone through, its been a roller coaster ride. But we need to protect the town.” said Baghdady.

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