A Green Line station at Mystic Valley Parkway in Medford could support the creation of 240 jobs, 176 additional housing units, and would likely increase nearby residential property values by about 15 percent, according to a study by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).
Eric Halvorsen, a Transit Planner for the MAPC, presented the draft recommendations from the “Mystic Valley Parkway Green Line Community Visioning Process” to an audience of more than 100 people at Medford City Hall on Wednesday night. The study, commissioned by MassDOT with support from the city of Medford, was designed to evaluate potential land uses and transit-oriented development in the area, while minimizing negative impacts to the local community.
Based on a series of community and stakeholder meetings that began last February, MAPC identified the following desired objectives in any development of the area should the Green Line be extended to there:
+ Creation of more open space
+ Strong connectivity, especially for walking and biking
+ Maintain neighborhood character and scale
+ Offer a mixture of uses, including retail
+ Provide more senior and affordable housing
+ Creation of high-quality jobs
MAPC also identified the following potential negative impacts to be addressed:
+ Additional traffic and congestion
+ Parking and parking management
+ Displacement of current residents
+ Increased housing costs and property taxes
The study focused on four quadrants surrounding the site of the potential station, which is proposed for the current U-Haul property on Mystic Valley Parkway near Boston Avenue. The four parcels and their potential redevelopment, according to the MAPC, are:
166-194 BOSTON AVENUE, SOMERVILLE
+ Current use: Gas station and detached housing units from Mystic Valley Parkway to the entrance to 196 Boston Ave.
+ Potential re-use: A mixed-use development of up to 4 floors (1 floor retail, 3 floors residential) with green space replacing the gas station parcel
200 BOSTON AVENUE PARKING STRUCTURE, MEDFORD
+ Current use: Two-level parking structure supporting the 200 Boston Ave. office building
+ Potential re-use: Three-floor office/R&D/lab building with café/restaurant and a smaller parking structure.
WALKLING COURT MEDFORD HOUSING AUTHORITY COMPLEX
+ Current use: Nine two-story, garden-style standalone structures providing 144 units of public housing for elderly and disabled citizens.
+ Potential re-use: Two to three residential buildings, up to four floors, providing 172 additional public housing units and more open space on the property, plus 4 or 5 townhomes for low-income families.
WHOLE FOODS, 2151 MYSTIC VALLEY PARKWAY, MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE
+ Current use: Whole Foods Market and detached liquor store
+ Potential re-use: An up to 6-floor structure with Whole Foods Market and offices on the first two floors, up to 4 floors of residential units above, and a combination of underground and surface parking.
MAPC estimated the development potential for the station area as 50,000 square feet of new commercial space and 67,000 square feet of office space. MAPC also said the addition of 240 jobs would double the existing tax revenue. MAPC estimated that build-out of such development would take 20 to 25 years.
MAPC estimated that the anticipated 15 percent increase in property values due to the introduction of the Green Line would results in an increase in home equity of $25 million in a half-mile radius of the station.
Since a rise in property values, and property taxes, would increase the percentage of income spent on housing for both home owners and for renters, MAPC recommended several policies and strategies to mitigate or prevent negative impacts, including:
+ Local implementation of the state’s Circuit Breaker real estate tax credit that provides eligible residents age 65 and older a refund on their state income taxes
+ An accessory dwelling unit bylaw that would allow construction of a rentable living space on a residential property
+ Adding more affordable housing units, including via inclusionary zoning
+ Offering weatherization program funding to retrofit homes to improve energy efficiency and reduce heating/cooling costs
MAPC also recommended several infrastructure improvements to improve access for people walking, biking, and with disabilities, and local economic development strategies such as business loans and storefront improvement programs, and the creation of an area retail association.
The MAPC’s draft study containing the recommendations highlighted Wednesday night will be released to the public for comment in a few weeks, both online and in venues such as City Hall and the Medford Public Library.
Once public comment is incorporated and the report completed, the MAPC study will help inform the decision of MassDOT/MBTA about whether to extend the Green Line to Mystic Valley Parkway, and of the cities of Medford and Somerville regarding any redevelopment efforts they would undertake.
The presentation from Wednesday night’s meeting also will be posted on the MAPC project website.
– Ken Krause