June 2021: Winter Hill Urban Renewal Plan Process Updates

The Winter Hill Urban Renewal Plan was adopted by the City Council in April 2021.

As a recap, the Winter Hill Urban Renewal Plan is a tool to spur the redevelopment of the vacant Star Market site and adjacent properties. The Urban Renewal Plan will allow the Somerville Redevelopment Authority to use eminent domain to lay out a pathway for redeveloping it, which could include taking the property.

The urban renewal process operates within strict controls, ensuring that property owners are properly compensated, current tenants are assisted in their relocation, and that the community is involved in setting the priorities for the future development. The Urban Renewal Plan was itself an action item of the Winter Hill Neighborhood Plan and additional engagement with community members was undertaken to ensure there was support for using urban renewal for this site in 2019/2020. The resulting Urban Renewal Plan, which received positive consensus from community members, outlines broad strokes of what the future of the site should be and envisions the formation of a Citizen Advisory Committee to help refine the parameters for redevelopment.

What’s next?

As of June 2021, all local approvals have been completed. The Urban Renewal Plan was reviewed and approved by the Somerville Redevelopment Authority, the Somerville Planning Board, the Somerville City Council, and the Mayor of Somerville.

The plan has now been sent to the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. It is expected that the state review and approval will take two-to-three months (until approx. August/September 2021). While the State is reviewing, City of Somerville staff are working in the background to get ready to form the Citizen Advisory Committee this fall.

The Urban Renewal Plan has a 10 year implementation time frame, beginning with 2021.

In case you missed it…Archive of Winter 2021 Project Announcements

The text below had previously been published at the top of the project webpage. It has been republished here in order to archive it and make space for ongoing updates.

From June 2019 through March 2020, City staff hosted meetings, 1:1 conversations, and office hours to explore whether the community would be interested in the City using eminent domain to take the vacant Star Market property and other nearby sites. The general consensus, from nearly a hundred participants, was yes.

As a result, City staff has prepared a Winter Hill Urban Renewal Plan draft. Download the PDF of the draft here, or read a summary of what’s included here.

To become adopted, the Plan must be approved by four different bodies:

SRA: The SRA adopted the plan at their September 16 meeting. Comment letters can be read here.

Planning Board: 11/5/2020 at 6:00pm: The Planning Board will discuss the Urban Renewal Plan and determine whether it is consistent with SomerVision. Register here.

City Council: 11/18/2020 at 6:00pm: The City Council will discuss and hold a public hearing regarding the plan before voting on whether to approve the plan. Register here.

State’s Department of Housing and Community Development: Once the Plan is approved by the required local entities, the State reviews it to ensure it meets legal requirements.

How to Participate

There are many opportunities to weigh in on the Winter Hill Urban Renewal Plan draft:

  1. Email comments for the SRA. -- The SRA has approved the plan.
  2. Attend upcoming meetings, particularly the Housing and Community Development Committee Public Hearing on 11/18 at 6:00pm. Written comments may be submitted to cityclerk@somervillema.gov.
  3. If you have not already, sign up for our email list to get updates on this project.

Relocation Benefits Info Session

Parties displaced by an urban renewal plan are entitled to relocation benefits per state law. If you want to learn more about these benefits, join us for an info session on Tuesday, December 1 at 11am. Email EconomicDevelopment@Somervillema.gov for the registration information if you're interested in attending.

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