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Business, Local Government and Politics

What should Malden build on Commercial Street?

MALDEN — What should Malden, Medford and Everett build along Commercial Street?

The cities have long struggled to articulate a vision for the swath of underdeveloped land along the road. But a new study may provide a roadmap for the future.

Preliminary findings, developed by a team that includes representatives from MassDevelopment, Harriman Associates and the advocacy agency Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, recommended both commercial use-only scenarios and commercial-residential options for the future redevelopment of the Commercial Street Corridor.

Malden City Councilors received initial findings from the study group this week. A final report will be presented later this spring.

MassDevelopment, the state’s economic development and finance agency, works with communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. Harriman Associates has joined the agency in this project to lend its architectural engineering input.

In September, MassDevelopment told the Malden City Council it would focus on job creation among its suggested redevelopment uses.

“We are concentrating on (redevelopment proposals) that prepare jobs for community members and and determining ways to attract more jobs as this project unfolds,” Amanda Maher, MassDevelopment vice president of real estate development and municipal services said at that time.

MassDevelopment was hired in June 2017 to lead this study and held public meetings to generate ideas from residents and community leaders for the area. A final public meeting was held in October and input from those meetings was presented to the city Tuesday night.

Four commercial uses for the area could be health service provision; manufacturing of aerospace and defense vehicles; food and beverage processing and distribution; and medical device production and distribution. Two of the proposal would be mixed use commercial and residential development, which would be bolstered by the nearby Wellington MBTA Station.

Several Councilors asked about the future of the Department of Public Works facility that has been referred to as the “white elephant” of the corridor.

“What is going to happen to the DPW yard in all of this,” Ward 2 Councilor Paul Condon asked during the council meeting. “Where is it going to go? That is what concerns constituents in this community.”

The action plan did present some alternative redevelopment suggestions for that site, which includes a massive fieldhouse-type building as well as numerous piles of supplies like sand, salt, gravel and mulch materials. Moving the yard has long been a point of contention in the city.

In the past, a number of ideas have been floated to relocate the DPW yard including relocating to the Boston Steel site on Eastern Avenue. That proposal met with heavy opposition and eventually the site was sold to a company which is now near completion of a self-storage facility there.

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