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Riverside Station proposal in Newton scaled back, opposition remains

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Multi-building complex would include hundreds of housing units, plus office space and retail, next to the Green Line

An aerial rendering of a multi-building project proposal. Rendering via Elkus Manfredi

The developers behind a proposal to build on a parking lot next to the Green Line’s Riverside stop in Newton have scaled back their plans to appease local opposition.

Lead developer Mark Development of Wellesley had planned a more than 1.5 million-square-foot complex with 675 housing units on the approximately 15-acre parcel. Mark has now trimmed those plans to more than 1.2 million square feet with 524 housing units. There would be 11 buildings total, including a garage.

The project would also include a 154-room hotel that would replace the existing Hotel Indigo on the site as well as more than 523,000 square feet of office space and 71,000 square feet-plus of retail. The project would include 2,758 parking spaces too.

Developers have been trying to build on the parcel for several years now. One of the junior partners on the current plan, Normandy Real Estate, ran into financial hurdles redeveloping the lot shortly after securing approvals from Newton. Mark Development’s last plan ran into local opponents concerned about the project’s scope.

The same appears to await the newest plan, per the Globe’s Jon Chesto. Officials and residents are still concerned that the multi-building project—the tallest building of which would stretch to 13 stories with two more reaching eight stories—is out of scale for the area.

There are those, though, who see just such a larger-scale development next to a T stop as integral to solving the larger Boston region’s housing shortage. The project would also be a $30 million net boon to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority through a longterm lease for the 12-acre section of the footprint that the agency owns (and the agency could use the money).

As Chesto notes, “This is one of the last blank-canvas properties along rapid transit in Greater Boston.” The plan now moves to the Newton City Council, where it needs two-thirds approval. In the meantime, some residents say they might challenge the proposal via a Newton bylaw allowing certain council decisions to be put to a citywide vote. Stay tuned.