The Lower Falls Improvement Association’s Riverside Committee is a neighborhood group concerned about oversized development at the Riverside MBTA Station in Newton
What is RightSize Newton?
The LFIA Riverside Committee, known as RightSize Riverside, focuses specifically on the proposed Riverside Station development. RightSize Newton, a nonprofit civic organization, advocates for appropriately sized and thoughtful development across Newton. Our committee supports the goals and values of RightSize Newton.
To learn more about RightSize Newton, click here.
Lawn Signs are here! Order
A birds-eye view of Newton Lower Falls. The Riverside site, where Mark Development plans to build a mixed-use complex, is on top left.
GETTING RIVERSIDE RIGHT.
The Lower Falls Improvement Association’s Riverside Committee (LFIA Riverside) is a neighborhood group that advocates for sensible and sustainable development at Riverside Station that fits the scale of the surrounding community.
On October 19, 2020, after 2 ½ years of intense negotiations that involved our Committee, our Ward 4 City Councilors (Lenny Gentile, Josh Krintzman, Chris Markiewicz), and Mark Development (MD)—including reaching a critical zoning compromise—the Newton City Council unanimously approved a special permit for the Riverside project. The planned development included a laboratory/office building, a hotel, apartments, retail space, open green areas, parking garage, and the MBTA station.
Construction was estimated to begin in 2022 and take up to 12 years to compete. (For more details on the project’s components, see this Boston Globe article about the City Council vote: "Newton City Council approves mixed-use development at Riverside Station on the Green Line.")
At the time, we issued this statement: “All developments—especially large-scale ones like Riverside—need to strike a balance among many competing goals. The LFIA Riverside Committee worked extraordinarily hard to represent our neighborhood. While we succeeded in reducing the overall size of the project and working out many other details, the 10 building, 1.025 million square foot development approved tonight essentially creates a new Newton village. Nonetheless, this is what compromise looks like.”
In January 2021, MD proposed a set of significant changes to the Riverside project they say are needed because of market forces related to the coronavirus pandemic. Notably, they seek to replace the hotel with a lab/life science building. Other changes would reduce the square footage of the residential, retail, and open space. Mark Development is expected to file with the City Council for approval of these changes in March 2021, and a new round of public hearings would begin.
For details on this ongoing debate, see News / Updates.
For City Council meetings and webinars, see Upcoming Events.
During the lengthy process leading up to project approval in October 2020, the LFIA Riverside Committee helped to:
· Shrink the overall size from 1.5 million square feet to 1.025 million square feet, which we believe will lessen traffic and the burden on public services such as schools, roads, sewer, police, and fire.
· Decrease building heights to lessen their visual and environmental impacts, including: the hotel (from 18 stories to 6 stories), the office building (from 14 stories to 11 stories), and building heights on Grove Street.
· Increase the percentage of housing to 60%—including 103 affordable housing units.
· Mitigate the impact of the development on Newton Lower Falls and Auburndale with measures that include providing safe pathways for cyclists and pedestrians; enhancing access to nature; and improving the experience of residents, office workers, visitors, and commuters who will use Riverside.
We thank our Ward 4 councilors for their guidance, support and advocacy. We also appreciate the willingness of Mark Development to meet and negotiate with us in good faith. Most importantly, we thank our Lower Falls and Auburndale neighbors. Without their engagement and commitment to the process, we would not have been as successful.
We will continue to advocate for the community during discussions about MD’s proposed changes and the long Riverside construction process ahead.