Somerville Mayor requests $25M for orange line at Assembly Square

Somerville Mayor requests $25M for orange line at Assembly Square

In order to build a new Orange Line stop at Assembly Square, Mayor Joe Curtatone has asked the Board of Aldermen to borrow $25 million.

The idea is that tax revenue from the first stage of the commercial and residential development would go towards paying off the debt and jump-start the redevelopment of Assembly Square.

On Thursday, March 31, the Finance Committee will talk about the mayor’s request for borrowing. The aldermen have already established the District Improvement Financing plan that would enable the debt financing to work. The public hearing starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

The aldermen have been working with developers on the Assembly Square site since at least April 1998 when Alderman at Large Bill White made an order urging then-developer Samuels & Associates to “consider the long-term interests of the city.” In 2005, Federal Realty Investment Trust became the principal developer.

The $25 million would combine with $23 million in state funding for the Orange Line station and $69 million from FRIT to build infrastructure on the land next to the Mystic River. Underground utilities have been laid, and a strip mall was built a few years ago. In the next stage, FRIT is planning to add 400 housing units, a 500-seat movie theater, a hotel and retail space.

Alderman at Large Bill White, who previously criticized the mayor for rushing the Board of Aldermen to create the DIF plan said it will be important to talk about what would happen if the city did not borrow the money for the station.

“You’ve got to look at the alternative,” said White in a phone interview. White said he also wanted guarantees that development would happen in the other areas of Assembly Square.
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