Downtown revitalization is a hot topic with everything that's been happening lately, so I thought this would be a good time for an update.
As you may have heard, last Spring the City Council approved a special permit for the redevelopment of the 200 Moody Street block. This is the former site of the "Construction Site" toy store near the Moody Street Bridge. This project will replace a vacant building with a mixed-use development featuring street level retails space with 16 condominium units on 3 floors above. It is the first significant redevelopment project on Moody Street since Cronin's Landing.
Two weeks ago we approved a special permit for the One Moody Street redevelopment project in Central Square (corner of Main Street and Moody Street). This 340,000 square foot development includes three five-story buildings with 269 residences, 392 parking spaces, and retail space at ground level. This major project will transform the Downtown.
Both of these projects are possible due to the "Business C" Zoning District that was created by the City Council years ago. I was a leader in the effort to create the “Business C” District, which allows for higher density mixed-use development near public transportation. Today this is called “smart growth.” I also pushed hard for both of the recently approved projects.
These two projects will give a huge boost to Downtown Waltham. However, we need to keep up the momentum. That is why I have recently introduced a series of Zoning Ordinance amendments aimed at boosting business Downtown. The City Council recently held a public hearing on two of these proposals. One would allow the City Council to permit "fast-food establishments" in the Downtown. Currently, they are not allowed at all. The intent is not to bring in McDonald's and KFC, but to give the City Council the flexibility to allow other types of businesses that one would not normally consider "fast-food" (e.g. a small cafe) but that, because of the way they are set-up and operate, get caught up in the definition of "fast-food." The amendment will give the City Council the flexibility to approve proposals on a case by case basis.
The second of my proposals that had a public hearing would allow bakeries in the Downtown "by right." That means, they would not need a special permit. Some people have wondered; "Why did they prohibit bakeries in the Downtown to begin with?" The answer is that they were not specifically prohibited. In fact, they were not even mentioned in the Zoning Ordinance at all. That was the problem. Because there was no specific use called a "bakery" you had to look to other definitions already in the Zoning Ordinance. Because the food sold in bakeries is "prepared in advance" and ready to eat, it fell under "fast-food." My proposal is to create separate definition for "bakeries" and to make it an allowed used in all business districts.
I am also introducing a similar Zoning Ordinance amendment for delicatessens, and an amendment regarding projecting signs in the Downtown. The sign code amendment was developed in cooperation with the Waltham Downtown Partnership at the request of numerous shop owners.
Additionally, I am pleased to say that the Waltham Traffic Commission recently adopted my proposal to upgrade the pay-by-space ticket machines in the municipal parking lots so that they can accept payment via credit and debit cards. This will be a tremendous convenience for patrons of our Downtown.
When you combine all of this with the $3Million recently approved for new sidewalks and trees on Moody and Main Streets, the funding for 10 new "Big Belly" solar powered trash compacters, and the Mayor's recent request for funding to rebuild the Walnut Street and Spruce Street municipal parking lots, there is a lot to be excited about. The future looks good for Downtown Waltham, and I am proud to have played a key role in so many of these improvements.
Robert G. Logan
Councillor Ward 9
Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Logan4Ward9
Twitter at: @CouncilW9