Utile’s draft master plan for Weston’s Town Center was strongly supported by the Board of Selectmen at a meeting on Tuesday evening. The proposal is predicated on making the lane widths of Boston Post Road consistent through the heart of the town. In addition, oversized intersections will be reduced in size to improve pedestrian connections. The result is more than an acre of new open space that includes wider sidewalks, Center Square, a new town square, and Knox Park, an intimately-scaled new park. Together they create a continuous link of diverse open spaces between the historic Town Green and the commercial heart of the town.
Weston Town Center reimagined
MIT celebrates renovation of the Samuel Tak Lee Building
Utile joined the MIT Department of Urban Studies & Planning (DUSP) at a reception last evening to celebrate the newly renovated Samuel Tak Lee Building. The 35,000 square foot extensive interior renovation accommodates new collaborative spaces with a variety of flexible rooms, providing the department with necessary programmatic fluidity. The project team was recognized for their effort in completing this ambitious project in time for the start of the fall semester.
Groundbreaking ceremony for Union Point’s new downtown area
State and town officials, members of the development team, and other project supporters celebrated the groundbreaking of the Union Point extension of the Delahunt Parkway, a half-mile stretch of road that will serve as an east-west connector between Weymouth and neighboring Rockland. The road will run along John M. Corcoran and Co. and Utile’s Town Center Apartments – now under construction – and will establish the official downtown for the new Union Point community. You can read more about the ceremony celebrating the latest progress in master developer LSTAR’s exciting Union Point project in The Patriot Ledger.
The 2016 softball season comes to a close
Team Utile has wrapped up another exciting softball season with the Boston Area Architects’ Softball League! Facing off against nine other teams from June through August at Moakley Park in South Boston, Utilians (and loyal canine mascots!) ended the summer with a satisfying 5-4 record. A special thanks to our friends at Island Exterior Fabricators for contributing to a fun season.
Construction begins at Union Point Town Center
Construction is underway at the mixed-use Town Center Apartments, part of developer LSTAR’s new 1,500-acre Union Point residential and commercial community on the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station site. Designed by Utile for John M. Corcoran and Company, the new development includes two five-story residential buildings that will house 265 rental units and 14,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. A third building with 13 townhouses abuts a proposed linear park. Working with general contractor Plumb House, Union Point Town Center is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2017.
MetroMark Apartments: A Boston Herald “Hot Property”
Paul Restuccia of the Boston Herald visited the recently-opened first phase of MetroMark Apartments in Jamaica Plain, a mixed-use development by The Brennan Group and John M. Corcoran Company, designed by Utile.
In Hot Property: New JP units sited for success, Restuccia covers in detail the initial 85-apartment building, including a description of unit types and amenities, with photos of the model unit and communal spaces. Property Manager Kelli Ahearn-Lucas says part of the appeal to renters is the development’s location; “We’re in the city, but not in the city, with the Arboretum and Jamaica Pond so close by.”
The second phase of MetroMark includes 198 units over ground-floor retail space. This “Building B” is under construction with an anticipated January 2017 completion.
Governor signs municipal modernization bill with parking reforms co-authored by Utile’s Jessica Robertson
In early August, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a comprehensive municipal modernization bill, with the intention of updating obsolete practices and giving cities and towns more flexibility and authority.
Utile’s Jessica Robertson, a senior planner, was instrumental in writing a section of the new law that modernizes parking management. She says, “Public parking is a major flashpoint in many downtowns and town centers throughout the Commonwealth, but in many cases a perceived parking crunch can actually be solved with better parking management, as opposed to building more parking, which can be detrimental to urban design and walkability. Now that this bill has become law, municipalities finally have all the tools at their disposal to actively manage their parking supply.”
Municipalities are now able to set parking prices based on demand, and allocate parking revenue to streetscape improvements and multimodal transportation projects. Most importantly, the law enables municipalities to form parking benefit districts, wherein an organization such as a business improvement district helps decide how to spend the parking revenue raised in their district. This arrangement is crucial to creating the political will for pricing parking appropriately; residents, businesses and customers are much more willing to pay for parking if they can see that they’re helping to fund new sidewalks or streetlights.
You can read more about the entire municipal modernization bill here.
A history of One Beach in Revere, MA
The Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) covered the recent opening of One Beach in its article, Historic site now home for Revere seniors. Designed by Utile, the 39-unit senior living building was developed through a partnership between The Neighborhood Developers, MHP, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The article gives a detailed history of the formerly abandoned property into what is now an integral part of an ongoing revitalization effort in the City of Revere.
New photography for Belmont Day School’s Coolidge Hall
Photographer Gustav Hoiland recently shot the renovated Coolidge Hall at Belmont Day School. Utile’s renovation of the centrally-located dining hall and multi-purpose space included the removal of an elevated stage to allow for more dining space, large new windows, and an interior sliding barn door.
Utile leads plan of New Haven’s historic Wooster Square
Utile, along with transportation consultant Nelson\Nygaard, recently kicked off a new transit-oriented development planning study for the Wooster Square neighborhood of New Haven, Connecticut. The study aims to guide the City in planning for an anticipated future development of approximately 1,500 new housing units, and will make recommendations for the redesign of streets for better connectivity, ways to best promote walking and cycling, and redevelopment options for underutilized properties. A well-attended working session in mid-July encouraged community and steering committee members to pitch ideas for area improvements and upgrades. Aliyya Swaby of the New Haven Independent covered the first community meeting in her article, Neighbors Envision Wooster Square 2.0. Swaby noted the wide-range of suggestions from attendees, including a cobblestone-lined pedestrian walkway, and diversifying commercial businesses in the neighborhood’s predominantly-Italian Wooster Street.
Wooster Square was transformed by Ed Logue, development administrator of New Haven from 1954 to 1960. He served the same role at the Boston Redevelopment Authority from 1961 until 1967. Logue’s work in both cities combined selective demolition with the insertion of new housing and civic buildings. Notable mid-century works of architecture in Wooster Square include the New Haven Fire Headquarters (Earl Carlin, 1961-62) and the Conte School (Gordon Bunshaft and Natalie de Blois of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, 1962). The Utile team will explore strategies that encourage the better integration of these and other mid-century modern buildings into the fabric of the neighborhood.