Wellesley Office Park

Issue summary

The town of Wellesley has adopted a 40R Smart Growth Zoning Overlay District at the site of the Wellesley Office Park, and the Hanover Company is currently seeking a permit to replace the office building at 40 William St. with a 350-unit apartment building and a shared parking garage. The Wellesley ZBA could issue a permit later this month, and the Mass. Dept. of Transportation and the Mass. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs are also involved in the permitting process. Click here to read the Newton Planning Dept.'s comment letter to the EEA regarding the project.
 

Issue full description

Representatives of the Hanover Company attended the Waban Area Council's meeting on January 9th at the Waban Library Center to brief the community on the project and answer questions.

WAC Bob Jampol coments on the meeting are published on the BLOG Village 14. 

We learned:

  • With this developemt, Wellesley will meet its goal of 10% minimal subsidized housing units and can declare safe-harbor from future 40B proposals.
  • This phase of the development will generate about $1.34 million annually in tax revenues as well as one-time bonus payments of over $1 million.
  • There are no plans to create a foot bridge over the Charles as proposed by Newton residents, councilors, and organizations. This bridge would presumably make Waban Center accesible to the resients of the development and make the trails accesible to Newton residents.
  • Newton has no say in this development. Pressure would have to come from Ruth Balser's office and state level intervention if possible.

Highland Area Councilor Srdjan Nedeljkovic, who also serves on the City's Transportation Advisory Group (TAG), was on the Comprehensive Planning Advisory Committee, and co chaired the WAC/NHAC Future Planning committee presented his interpretation of the project slides here. He states:

Since they (the presenters) are representing the Hancock company which owns the entire 26 acre parcel, the development team should have acknowledged that further buildout is not only anticipated, but that it is required by the zoning change since Chapter 40R necessitates density of at least 20 units per acre. https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVII/Chapter40R/Section6

By presenting their current project as a stand alone, single project that "just replaces one office building with one apartment building," and by stating that no additional development is currently being planned, the developer seems to be minimizing the real concerns that people should have about the overall development intentions on this site, especially its impacts on transportation. Review of documents on the Wellesley town website clearly indicates that the proposed development of this single apartment building is "phase 1".

The documents also suggest that office space that is being removed by the proposed residential building in Phase 1 may be replaced by an additional 75K square feet of new office space in a new building up to 85 feet high. So the net result at buildout may be the same amount of office space that is currently within the site, but now with an additional 550-600 units of housing.

Furthermore, the optimistic traffic counts that the traffic engineer presented still represent a 30x increase in traffic on Saturdays compared to the current office building, and a tripling of weekday average traffic from 646 cars per day to 1906 cars per day. Every single one of those drivers will need to get back home to their apartment at the end of the day, and they will all be driving down the frontage road westbound, crossing over the dangerous Quinobequin intersection (in Newton!), and then turning down William Street.