Cushing Village Returns to Planning Board Tonight as the Developer Speaks Out

Sixteen months after receiving the go ahead to begin constructing the 167,000 square-foot, multi-use development in the heart of Belmont’s Cushing Square, the developer of Cushing Village will be back before the Belmont Planning Board tonight at 7 p.m. in Town Hall. 

But don’t expect any major announcements from the first appearance by Smith Legacy Partners before a town governmental board since coming to the Board of Selectmen in March. According to documents at the Office of Community Development, the development team will propose four minor design modifications to the Project Plans, approved by the Planning Board in July 2013.

In an email sent to selected residents late last week, Smith Legacy’s principal partner Chris Starr asked residents to show up to the meeting, saying “[w]e hope that you can attend this Planning Board meeting, which is another critical step in making the vision of new quality rental housing and retail space for Cushing Square a reality.”

As noted in the Community Development documents, the “proposed modifications [does not] alter the size of the development or reduce the number of apartments or parking spaces.”

Cushing Village’s emergence before town officials is the first time since September when the Acton-based developer began actively shopping the three-block site to an array of commercial developers to take on Smith Legacy as a partner, or to purchase the future home of 115 residential units, 230 parking spaces and nearly 36,000 square feet of retail at the corner of Trapelo Road and Common Street.

The last time the development came before the town was in March when Smith Legacy requested a month-to-month extension for the closing date for the $850,000 purchase and sale agreement for the municipal parking lot on Trapelo Road.

As part of the agreement, the developer agreed to pay a $20,000 penalty for each month it delayed the purchase. To date, Smith Legacy has paid $100,000 into town coffers.

Despite the delays and uncertain future of his involvement with the project he spent eight years seeking to build his first large-scale development, Starr continues to make optimist statements on the future of the retail/residential project.

“We realize that it is a project with many moving parts and lots of stakeholders to protect, so we understand how important our project execution is to the town. Our work will need to be carefully integrated with the Trapelo Road Redevelopment project that will be active in Cushing Square at the same time as our project,” said Smith as he also introduced members of the development team in the message.

“Soon we will sending out invitations for you to join us for a cup of coffee and meet the team. We think it is important that we keep the channels of communications flowing. I look forward to sitting down with you to discuss your ideas and concerns for the project,” said Smith.

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