Planning Board Extends Cushing Village Permit, Hopes for Resolution

Photo: Cushing Village.

Like the tardy student who always needs more time to complete a school project, the partnership seeking to build the troubled Cushing Village multi-use project was provided an additional month for the town to review and vote on a $80-million financing package submitted days ago.

The Belmont Planning Board approved the extension unanimously at its Tuesday, Aug. 4 meeting held at Town Hall, adding an extra 30 days to the Special Permit approved two years ago on Aug. 19, 2013.

The necessity for his committee to add-on a month to the permit’s expiration date “was not to benefit the developer as it is to benefit the Board of Selectmen,” said Michael Battista, Planning Board chair speaking of Cushing Village’s development partners Smith Legacy Partners and Cambridge-based Urban Spaces.

The newly-formed partnership is seeking to construct a three-building complex comprising 115 apartments, about 36,000 square feet of retail/commercial space and a garage complex with 230 parking spaces. It would be Belmont’s biggest commercial/housing project in decades.

Within the past few days submitted a large and complicated package of finance documents that needs to be analyzed by Aug. 19.

“Shame on them,” Battista said of Smith Legacy and Urban Spaces. “They had two years to get it together and, at the 11th hour, they send the selectmen this voluminous package that needs to be waded through, town counsel must review and due diligence performed on the financing,” said Battista.

“Plus they had the thing on the news that effects the deal,” he said, speaking of Urban Space’s CEO Paul Ognibene arrest for soliciting sex at work on Craigslist back in July.

Demonstrating the project’s financial feasibility was one of the main requirements the Selectmen placed on the Cushing Village developer to allow the sale of the municipal parking lot at Williston and Trapelo Road. The price tag for the lot adjacent to Starbucks is $850,000.

“[The selectmen] are now doing their due diligence and the expiration date looming, I didn’t what the [three member board] have to feel like if they don’t make a decision, the permit will expire on Aug. 19,” he said.

“It would have been a real shame for the permit, which took a year and a half to craft, to expire when everything is at the doors step,” said Battista, adding the project should move forward, “hopefully sooner than later.”

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