Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone has put the best spin on yesterday's announcement from Ikea that the Swedish meatball-maker would not be plunking a big-box store on the Mystic next to the $1.5 billion Assembly Row project: “We are disappointed that Ikea won’t be a partner, but this opens up even greater opportunity and actually removes an impediment ... to even greater tax revenue and jobs. A big box furniture retailer ... was not the highest and best use for that parcel. We see a mix of uses.”
Indeed. Curtatone has called Assembly Row "the best brand-new neighborhood on the Eastern Seaboard," one where thousands (may tens of thousands some day) will live and work and shop and eat. In keeping with a general trend in the Hub and other urban areas, it will not be a place (or is not meant to be a place) you drive to and then drive away from in the evening. Hence the Orange Line station and the idea for mixed-use development throughout, with shops on the ground floor and apartments above. There are supposed to be, in fact, 2,050 housing units, along with 1.75 million square feet of office space and 830,000 square feet of retail (this last figure may change, obviously, given the Ikea pull-out).
The 12 acres that Ikea has turned its nose up at—after years of negotiations millions spent—is now up for sale or lease through the company (most likely sale). Construction is already under way on Assembly Row's first phase, including the 235-unit AVA Somerville apartment building rendered above. So act now if you've got some ideas (and monies). The best neighborhood from Maine to Miami will not wait.
· Mayor Eyes Better Idea Than Ikea [Herald]
· Somerville's 'Best Brand-New Neighborhood' In Eastern U.S. [Curbed Boston]
· Somerville's Downward-Facing Doghouse and Hub's Apt. Future [Curbed Boston]
· Somerville's Big New Assembly Row Focuses First on Small [Curbed Boston]