Committee will study Elm Street project proposals

Peter J. Miller

WESTFIELD- A committee will study two proposals for the Elm Street Urban Development Project and offer its recommendations to the Westfield Redevlopment Authority.

The proposals are for development of the former J.J. Newberry’s site.

Community Development Director Peter Miller said that the committee consists of two members of the WRA and three other individuals within the city government, including himself. The others are WRA member Kathleen Witalisz, WRA member Tom Woodson, former City Advancement Officer Joe Mitchell, and Director of Purchasing Tammy Tefft. 

The five-person committee will review developers Domus Inc. of Westfield and Arch St. Development LLC. out of Needham. They will score each company on a predetermined point system. Miller said that he hopes to have that review done before Thanksgiving.  

“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to review both of these proposals,” said Miller.

The WRA and Miller will conduct public interviews with both developers sometime in December after the review has ended. Miller said that there should be a decision in January. 

The 1.6 acre lot has remained vacant since 1986 when a fire destroyed the Newberry’s building beyond repair, forcing it to be demolished. The lot has been used as a municipal parking lot of sorts with a PVTA station, but the WRA believes it can be used in more productive ways.

In previous plans that were laid out, the WRA showed a building that would be a mixed-use of commercial units and low income housing. They specify that whatever form this building takes, it would not end up being full section 8 housing. 

Domus Inc., whose offices are on School Street in Westfield, specializes in developing affordable housing. 

By rule, 25 percent of the livable units in the building have to be affordable by somebody making 100 percent of a median income.

Arch Sreet. Development and Domus were the only two companies to respond to the request. Other developers took out packages to inquire about the project, but ultimately chose not to commit.

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