Belmont Manor Seeks Assisted Living Facility On Pleasant Street, First In Town

Photo: A draft design of a proposed assisted living facility in Belmont.

In the first step of the commercial redevelopment of South Pleasant Street, the owner of Belmont Manor Nursing Home is proposing a 75,000 sq.-ft., 85-unit assisted living facility at 1000 Pleasant St. adjacent to the Star Market parking lot and the Belmont Car Wash.

The three-story building with 30 parking spaces would be the town’s first assisted living facility.

The proposal presented before the Planning Board on July 31 by Steward Karger, Belmont Manor’s full-time administrator, would meet the pent-up demand from aging residents “who would rather stay in Belmont” when they need more help with everyday tasks. Today, assisted living facilities in nearby towns are running at 95 percent capacity with a current need for 400 additional units. 

“It’s a use that’s needed in Belmont with minimal impact on schools and traffic,” said Karger.

The preliminary design calls for the 32-foot tall building to be constructed where a two-story office building owned by the Tocci family currently stands, said Andy Rojas, the project’s architect.

The plans call for three floors occupying between 23,400 and 26,100 sq.-ft. with units averaging from 400 to 600 sq.-ft. The first floor will have a reception area along with units with the second floor mainly apartments. The third floor will be dedicated to residents with dementia and memory loss. A basement will include mechanical space, staff break rooms, laundry area and resident services.

Rojas said the design is in draft form as the land will need to be rezoned – the site lies in an LB-2 zone – to allow for a third floor and a change in use without seeking a Special Permit. Rather than alter the town’s zoning map, Rojas suggested the creation of an overlay district, in which a special zoning area is placed over the existing base zone. The town has created overlay districts in Cushing Square to assist in building the Bradford complex, in the Oakley neighborhood and for the placement of medical marijuana facilities. 

Rojas said the best solution would be to overlay the town’s LB-1 zone on the site and extend it over the neighboring property owned by the Tocci family to Citywide Subaru at 790 Pleasant St. Rojas said with the overlay in place, “you’re going to see that this will be a catalyst for other things” along Pleasant. Rojas predicts the future redevelopment of the Tocci-owned Belmont Car Wash on Trapelo Road and its property further down the street “would be mixed use with retail [on the ground floor] and residential above.”

Despite available land adjacent to the proposed facility, Karger said there are “absolutely no plans” to move Belmont Manor from its current Agassiz Avenue location. He also said he is talking with the Tocci family on the purchase of the land. 

Reaction from the Planning Board was mostly positive with Chair Charles Clark saying it was a “very interesting proposal and a very positive development” in light of the recently passed Housing Production Plan which called for additional housing for the elderly.

The proposal is the second new development set to be built in the South Pleasant Street/Waverley Square. In June, the Zoning Board of Appeals approved the construction of a pair of retail/residential structures on Trapelo Road and White Street by local developer Joseph Destefano. 

New Retail/Residential Project On Trapelo Could Spur Waverley Sq Redevelopment

Photo: The location on Trapelo Road of new development in Waverley Square.

A pair of mixed-use developments slated for the heart of Waverley Square could hearken the beginning of a major renovation to Belmont’s business center, according to the longtime resident leading the

Developer Joe DeStefano is proposing two nearly identical projects with ground floor retail and two floors of residential units, mostly studio apartments, at 493 and 505 Trapelo Rd., abutting the commuter rail tracks. The locations are currently occupied by the Waverley Insurance Agency (493 Trapelo) and “a dated strip style building” housing a fitness center (505 Trapelo).

In his letters to the board, DeStefano said the project will not just “greatly enhance the appearance of Waverley Square.” the new construction will “hopefully encourage further redevelopment along the Trapelo Road Corridor to complete an exciting revitalization of Belmont’s retail and residential neighborhoods.”

Belmont’s worst kept secret over the past two years has been the landowners of parcels in Waverley Square and along the length of South Pleasant Street are actively working in a loose partnership behind the scenes to advance plans to create a large-scale, multi-use development on land currently used for low-impact retail and equipment storage. Currently, the town’s Planning Board has been discussing the development options along South Pleasant Street and Waverley Square.

Last summer, the Planning Board (which, at that time, DeStefano was a member) took a first stab presenting a redevelopment blueprint for Waverley Square when it proposed building a housing development on the site of the Belmont Car Wash – across the commuter rail line from the DeStefano projects along Trapelo Road – centered by a relocated Belmont Public Library. That plan was immediately criticized by neighbors and the Board of Library Trustees which said it was never informed that the library was part of the plan. The proposal died soon after. 

DeStefano’s project, dubbed the Waverley Square Redevelopment, envisions building two, 40-foot tall buildings on the sites with approximately 10,000 square feet of storefront space on the ground floor. The two floors above the retail will be small living units. At 495 Trapelo, there will be six studios on the second floor (with one handicap accessible) and four studios and two one bedrooms on the second floor. At 505 Trapelo, there will be three studio and two one bedrooms on the first and second floors. Parking is located at the rear of the buildings.

Due to the existing business-related zoning bylaw, DeStefano initial attempt in April to obtain a building permit was denied by the Office of Community Development as both developments do not comply with the town’s current zoning bylaw in which a mixed-use building must obtain a Special Permit.

The project is in a Local Business I commercial zone which allows for the highest intensity development, include sit-down and fast-food restaurants and office and retail by Special Permit. The maximum building height is two stories, but three-story buildings may be approved by Special Permit. Belmont has a pair of LB I districts in Cushing and Waverley squares.

Nick Iannuzzi, chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals, told the Belmontonian the board will hold two nights of a public hearing beginning on June 18 to discuss the Special Permit request.

Power Outage 2.0: Tuesday’s Lights Out Set For 11 PM

Photo: Out goes the lights.

A wide swath of Belmont including Belmont Center to the Waverley Square neighborhood will experience a second “eclipse” in as many days.

But the blackout on   will occur when Belmont Light switches off the power to 67 streets as the municipal electrical utility starts the process of transferring the current electrical delivery system to one fed through the new Blair Pond substation which was commissioned earlier this summer. 

The streets impacted by the outage can be found here.

Belmont Fire and Police departments and other emergency service have been coordinating with the utility to ensure that the public’s safety will be met.

Call Belmont Light at 617-993-2800 with any concerns or questions.

Updates can be found at Belmont Light’s web page and on Facebook and its Twitter feed.

Belmont Joins Opposition To MBTA Wi-Fi Poles

Photo: MBTA commuter rail station at Waverley Square.

Belmont is joining a growing number communities in opposition to the installation of 320 75-foot tall mono-poles by the MBTA along commuter rail tracks including one slated for Thayer Road in Waverley Square.

Dubbing it a “silly idea,” Selectmen Chair Jim Williams joined his colleagues in voicing concerns to the regional transportation authority’s plan to construct the towers to improve Wi-Fi service to passengers riding the rails.

The pole in Belmont will be located adjacent to 33-39 Thayer Road on the Waltham side of the tracks, said Jefferey Wheeler of the Office of Community Development who attended a recent community meeting by the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board to discuss the $150 million project.

While the tracks are 20 feet below the street’s grade, the pole will still be as tall as a five-story tall building when installed.

The MBTA said the project – which is an underground fiber-optic cable which utilizes the pole to project the wireless network to the trains – will eliminate “dead spots” along the four commuter rail lines it services. 

Wheeler said the MBTA told the meeting it only needs the first 35 feet of the pole to send its signal while the remaining 40 feet is expected to the rented to mobile phone carriers to supply their service to trains and the surrounding neighborhoods.

The MBTA entered into an agreement in 2014 with a private company which will share revenue from sponsorships, infrastructure leasing, and a premium wireless service.

Selectman Adam Dash was critical of the lack of transparency from the MBTA stating the authority only sent the notification to the town of its intentions through the Belmont Historic District Commission and not the Selectmen or Town Administrator.

While the town can express its opposition to the project, the MBTA is exempt from local zoning bylaws restricting height and appearance as the structures are being constructed on the authority’s right of way along the tracks. Wheeler pointed out that cell phone carriers which will have the right to use the upper half off of the pole – up to three carriers will able to use that space – are likely to have extending “arms” and wires.

The selectmen are advising residents who are opposed to the project to contact the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board, Gov. Charlie Baker, Mass. Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack, State Rep. Dave Roger, and State Sen. Will Brownsberger to share your concerns with this proposal.

Joseph Aiello, Chairman

Fiscal Management Control Board

State Transportation Building

10 Park Plaza

Boston, MA 02116

Governor Charlie Baker

Massachusetts State House
Office of the Governor
Room 280
Boston, MA 02133

To email Governor Baker’s Office use the link below:

Stephanie Pollack

Secretary and CEO Department of Transportation

Ten Park Plaza Suite 4160

Boston, Ma 02116

Telephone: 857-368-4636


State Rep. David M. Rogers

Massachusetts State House

24 Beacon St

Boston, MA 02133


State Sen. William N. Brownsberger

Massachusetts State House

24 Beacon St

Boston, MA 02133

Planning Board Unveils ‘Big Idea’ To Transform Waverley, So Pleasant Street

Photo: A rendering of a privately developed Belmont Public Library anchoring a mixed use development in Waverley Square. 

In a presentation that if implemented would alter the face of Belmont for generations, the Planning Board last Tuesday revealed a rough draft proposal to transform Waverley Square and South Pleasant Street into vibrant urban centers while breaking a logjam in the construction of critical – and costly – capital projects.

Dubbed “The Big Idea” by Planning Board Chair Liz Allison, the plan envisioned by the Board’s Raffi Manjikian would consist of a multi-use development built on the site of the Belmont Car Wash at 521 Trapelo Rd. combining senior housing with a new Belmont Public Library that would be privately-built and leased back to the town by the project developer. 

While the senior living/library project is in the preliminary talking stage, “the [property] owner said they are open to the concept,” said Manjikian.

“It’s time we come out to the community and begin to have this conversation with people at home, and perhaps even the developers engage with the town … to think through this idea and … contemplate something that is workable,” he said.

Nor would the library/senior living venture be a stand alone project such as The Bradford is to Cushing Square but likely the initial step in the redevelopment of South Pleasant Street running from the car wash on Trapelo Road to approximately Snake Hill Road. The three property owners have been quietly scouting their development proposal in the past year.

If the Planning Board’s blueprint goes from pie-in-the-sky to reality, it could jump start a much-needed transformation of a section of Belmont nearby residents believe has been neglected. In return, several property owners will be able to profit from what is currently an inefficient use of the land, while the town would have a new avenue to resolve at least one of its long-standing capital project demands.

The genesis of the big idea came from the Planning Board’s earlier meetings on the future of Waverley Square. Despite being a transportation hub for three towns with a history of commerce, the square has not attracted the business or housing other locales have seen.

During previous meetings, residents and the board felt the square needed “additions” for it to become a vibrant neighborhood especially those that attract people whether it be businesses – much talk has been associated with a “pub” in the area – or retaining the Waverley MBTA station. The meeting participants noted the area could absorb a substantial increase in density especially housing (including affordable units) but respect the residential nature of the nearby streets by limiting the additions’ massing. 

She also said any development should not move forward if it “generates very substantial costs to the town” such as large scale residential projects which would be “selling seats in the Belmont school system.” 

After putting forward the preliminary guideline of a new Waverley, Allison produced a chart that she noted isn’t seen at Planning Board: a financial worksheet showing a bottomless pit of red ink associated with the four capital projects staring Belmont taxpayers in the face.

With a new Belmont high school ($187.5 million), police station ($22.5 million), Library ($24 million) and Department of Public Works ($28 million) on the horizon, ratepayers are likely facing a $262 million price tag to meet the town’s capital needs. “And the cost will not go down,’ said Allison.

If financed by a 20-year bond at five percent, just the cost of the four projects would require the current property tax rate to rocket from $12.69/$1,000 assessed value to $15.88/$1,000, resulting in an annual tax increase for the average single family homeowner of $3,190. And that is before town folks face a Prop. 2 1/2  operating override expected in 2021.

“These are big numbers for a lot of people; I dare say a majority of people in Belmont,” said Allison. After ruminating through the guidelines and speaking to landowners, at a recent meeting, Manjikian asked himself “what if we were to think about a leaseback situation” in Waverley Square?

A fairly standard transaction in academic and commercial circles, a “sale/leaseback” is when an owner of a property sells an asset, typically real estate, and then leases it back from the buyer. Feedback to Manjikian’s off-the-top-of-his head proposal was overwhelmingly positive from town officials and the property owners.

The affordable senior housing would be in a convent location with a library, Star Market, a major bus line and the MBTA commuter rail station all within walking distance, said Allison. It would also free the current library location to be redeveloped for a new police headquarters.

Allison said the library was selected for the public portion of the project as it met many of the Planning Board’s objectives; it would be a gathering spot and a mooring for future development.

Allison said she is “very sympathetic” to library officials who told the board they were “less than enthusiastic” for the plan after finishing in February a five-year long feasibility study which proposes a new library at its current Concord Avenue location. Allison believes providing the library trustees with “some reality in a timely fashion” they could be convinced of the merits of a Waverley Square site.

Anne Marie Mahoney, chair of the Major Capital Projects Working Group – established this year to create a “sound plan for building, sequencing, and possible financing which will lead to a successful and timely completion of these projects” – who traveled from New Hampshire to hear the presentation, sounded a supportive note for the scheme.

“Personally and collective from the group we are very excited about this,” said Mahoney, saying it “frees up finances and resources, time and energy.”

“By doing something like this, it just opens the whole process up and allow the town to have a library a whole lot faster than they would if they had to wait for the town to fund it one at a time,” said Mahoney. The project would “anchor” Waverley Square with a major town building and says to the square “you are an important part of [Belmont].” 

While many who attended the meeting were supportive of the concept, concerns on traffic and congestion along with financing the project were raised as potential sticking points. 

“As always, the devil will be in the details,” Roy Epstein, chairman of the Warrant Committee, told the Belmontonian after the meeting. Head of the financial watchdog organization for Town Meeting, Epstein took a measured approach to the project, noted straight off that a leaseback would likely require a significant annual allocation from the town’s budget – likely between $1 to $2 million – possibly requiring an override.

Allison said there needs to be a “real enthusiastic response” from the public and Town Meeting by a two-to-one so the board can move forward on the preliminary plan. The significance of the two-thirds margin represents the number required at Town Meeting to alter the town’s zoning bylaws to allow for the greater use of height and density to make the entire project viable. 

“We will have to be open and creative if this is going to succeed, but there also has to be some ground rules that will be proposed by the board,” she said.

Police Release Drawing of One Suspect in Sunday’s Armed Robbery

Photo: Belmont Police drawing of one of two suspects in the armed robbery of a Waverley Square gas station on Sunday, Jan. 29.

The Belmont Police Department released a drawing of one of two suspects in an armed robbery that occurred Sunday night Jan. 29 at the Gulf Waverley Square Service Station located at 27 Lexington St. 

According to a Wednesday, Feb. 1 press release from the Belmont Police, the first suspect who enter the gas station was a black male approximately 5-feet, 9-inches tall, medium build and in his mid-twenties.  He was wearing a gray sweatshirt, black winter cap, and a black ski mask.  This suspect was armed with a black semi-automatic handgun.   

The second suspect – who is pictured in the drawing – entered the gas station after the first.  He was a black male, about 5-feet, 9-inches tall, medium build and in his mid-twenties.  He was wearing a black sweatshirt, jeans and has medium length black hair.

The first suspect pointed the handgun at the clerk and demanded money. He threatened to shoot the clerk if he did not comply. Both suspects ordered the clerk to the ground prior to exiting the station.  

If you have any additional information that will help aid the police in this investigation, please contact the Belmont Police at: 617-993-2501 or leave a message on our tip line: 617-993-2569 or email to

Waverley Square Service Station Robbed at Gun Point Sunday PM

Photo: The location of the robbery in Waverley Square in Belmont.

A person with a gun robbed Waverley Square Service Sunday evening, Jan. 29, according to the Belmont Police Department

The Gulf-branded service station at the corner of Lexington Street and Thayer in the heart of Waverley Square was robbed at 7:35 p.m. The police has not released a description or photo of the suspect or how much money was taken.

Belmont Police is asking anyone “who witnessed anything unusual in [the] area around that time” to call them at 617-993-2501.

Update: Waverley Commuter Rail Station Stays Open … For Now

Photo: The Waverley Station in Belmont.

Despite being out of the running for a portion of $150 million in state-financed accessibility upgrades, Belmont’s Waverley commuter rail station will remain open while the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority seeks a variance to delay required work on the site, according to an email message from State Sen. Will Brownsberger.

At a Friday, March 24 meeting with MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola about the future of the Waverley Station, Brownsberger said the Authority and the state’s Department of Transportation are conducting their capital planning process in which the DOT intends to allocate $150 million to upgrade the accessibility to its stations and other assets. 

But while “[t]he specific project list has not been released … [DePaola] indicated that Waverley would not be on the list – other stations that are more heavily used are clear higher priorities for access improvements,” said Brownsberger.

While missing out on the current pool of funds to upgrade the facility in the heart of Waverley Square, Brownsberger said DePaola and the Authority would be “seeking a ‘time variance’ from the Architectural Access Board — keeping the accessibility upgrades of the station on the long-term to-do list, allowing the station to remain open and hoping to reach it as a project in the future.”

It was a decision by the state’s Architectural Access Board in 2013 that ordered the transportation authority to improve access to the Waverley Square commuter rail station to allow access-challenged citizens to take public transportation after what was considered “substantial” improvements were made to the station.

“If the AAB allows this variance, the station will remain open. Given the large investment that the MBTA is making in accessibility, it would be reasonable for the AAB to allow the variance,” said Brownsberger. 

Holiday Parking Cheer: Selectmen OK 2 Free Hours at Municipal Lots

Photo: Don’t put any coins in or swipe you credit card if your staying less than two hours.

The holiday season came early for residents and shoppers who will be shopping for that special gift in Belmont’s three main shopping districts as the Board of Selectmen Monday night, Nov. 9, voted to allow the first two hours free at municipal parking lots town-wide during the holiday season.,

The free parking will take place from Nov. 27 to Dec. 27, said Town Administrator David Kale “as a  ‘welcome back’ gesture” to customers who didn’t want to contend with the road construction occurring throughout Belmont.

Currently, parking in the three municipal lots – Belmont Center, Waverley, and Cushing squares – costs a dollar for each hour and five dollars for the day.

Concerned business owners told Kale the reconstruction of Belmont Center and the work on the $17 million Trapelo/Belmont Corridor project had impacted sales and activity in the past six months. The free parking will be an incentive to draw them back.

Kale said parking enforcement will target the late afternoon hours, after 6 p.m. to keep spaces turning over during the peak shopping times. 

Also, the town will increase the number of trash bins in the business centers, especially in Belmont Center during the annual Belmont Turn on the Town, Dec. 4 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

Belmont Selectmen Chair Sami Baghdady said it was also a “tough environment” for store owners along Trapelo Road and especially those in Cushing Square which are dealing with the delay in the construction of the proposed Cushing Village development.

In construction news, Kale said the laying of sidewalks in Belmont Center is proceeding quickly, and the installation of new street lamps has begun on Leonard Street.

MBTA, State To Discuss Waverley Station’s Future At Nov. 16 Meeting

Photo: Waverley Station/Fitchburg line.

The Belmont Board of Selectmen and officials from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and Massachusetts Department of Transportation are holding a public meeting next month to updated the public on the future of the Waverley Commuter Rail Station.

At an initial meeting held on  Sept. 28, the MBTA expressed a desire to build a new commuter rail station near the present Waverley station, either on Pleasant Street or to the west of the business center and closing down the existing stations at Waverley and adjacent Belmont Center.

The meeting, which will take place on Monday, Nov. 16, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St., will discuss:

  • potential options to bring the facility into required compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations,
  • the future of the Belmont Center Station, and
  • a possible new Belmont Station alternative on Pleasant Street, as well as other options.

The meeting is an opportunity for the public to provide ideas to the MBTA. Any resident or community member who has an interest in this matter is highly encouraged to attend.

View a power point presentation made by the MBTA to the selectmen on Sept. 28 at

In addition, State Sen. Will Brownsburger provides a detailed explanation and breakdown on why a small level of repairs could lead to the building of a new facility.