August 27, 2006

Framingham Arcade Project Financing Still Up in the Air

More than two years after the Framingham Planning Board approved a revamp of the old Arcade building to include 260 apartments, 40 hotel room sand 50K of comercial space, "developers still don't have the money to pay for the project, which is expected to cost $58 million," reports the MetroWest Daily News. Amazing but true: After all these years, the project still isn't a certainty.

MassHousing is taking a "conceptual vote" on the project Sept. 12, which would then allow final financing negotiations. As the project has dragged on interminably, the local real estate market softened, which can't do much to help the financing situation.

And, because the project has dragged on for so long, developers need to reapply for a variance allowing first-floor apartments, the News notes.

Meanwhile, as local officials talk about the project's potential to revitalize downtown, I don't hear many people talking about the need to improve the rest of the downtown streetscape. If you don't make the whole area walker-appealing, even if people are living right downtown, the streets will remain largely barren, and most people living in new housing downtown will simply climb into their cars and drive to Route 9 or other destinations.

The presence of residents is important but not sufficient to create a dynamic neighborhood. Downtown must not only feel safe, but offer a compelling retail district on foot. People have got to want to walk from their homes to stores & restaurants and sometimes the train station, and that means improving all the storefronts in the area, as well as offering substantially better screening/landscaping when there still businesses set back from the sidewalk.


  1. This whole project is driving me nuts. It's such a great idea and seems so hopeful but it comes down to lack of funding that could stop it from happening.
    It's so hard as a resident to not be able to do anything to help.
    Maybe we could have a $58 million bake sale : )

  2. This project is, & always has been a point of humor for many of us residents. The only people who could afford to live downtown won't, & the only people who would want to live there, can't afford it...If they get built (big IF), they will soon be low-income housing (or SMOC) for certain, before long...Give it up, no one wants to shop downtown...get it?