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Authority Takes Union Square Parcels for Green Line Station

The land takings were outlined in the Union Square Revitalization Plan.

The Somerville Redevelopment Authority has acquired by eminent domain several parcels of land in Union Square in preparation for a future Green Line station in the neighborhood.

Steven Azar, a senior planner with the city of Somerville, said the redevelopment authority recorded orders of taking with the registry of deeds during the first week of June, which he said means the city now owns the parcels.

He said the city is paying $4.5 million for them.

The so-called North Prospect Block parcels, 21 in all—though many are small and merged together into larger property holdings—sit on the east side of Prospect Street, south of Somerville Avenue and north of the railroad tracks.

It's an industrial area, and some of the properties taken contain businesses like:

  • A-1 New & Used Plumbing & Heating, which sells antique radiators, tubs and other vintage fixtures.
  • Empire Marble & Granite, which installs kitchen countertops.
  • Prospect Iron & Steel, a scrap metal recycling business.
  • Allen Street Auto, a junkyard.

The Somerville Redevelopment Authority also owns several parcels in the area.

The redevelopment authority took the property in order to fulfill a commitment with the MBTA regarding the future Green Line Extension station at the site, and plans for the land takings were outlined in the Union Square Revitalization Plan, which was approved in October, 2012.

In a memorandum of understanding from July, 2012, the city agreed to grant easements to the MBTA so the transportation authority could build the Union Square Green Line station. In return, the MBTA agreed to have the station operational by early 2017.

The land takings allow the city to fulfill its part of the memorandum of understanding, Azar said, adding, "It's really holding the state to their commitment."

He said the legal statute governing land takings requires the pre-taking owners to vacate in four months, "but we're working with them."

Azar said a relocation agent has been working with the owners to find them new places to do business. Empire Marble & Granite is looking at sites in Cambridge, and A-1 New & Used Plumbing & Heating, which has been on PBS's "This Old House," is looking for nearby sites in Somerville, he said.

Azar said taking land by eminent domain is a process, and "we're all still in that process."

He said the easements for the MBTA have already been drafted, and once special volumetric engineering plans are complete, which could be in a few weeks, the Somerville Redevelopment Authority is ready to grant easements to the MBTA.

More on the Union Square Revitalization Plan

Aldermen Approve Union Square Revitalization Plan After Long Debate

Aldermen Debate Over Union Square Plan Leads to Parliamentary Drama

Union Square Gym Members Rally Against Theoretical Eminent Domain Taking

$1 Million EPA Grant Will Clean Up Future Union Square Development Site

Four Businesses Affected by the Union Square Revitalization Plan

City Releases Major Plan for Redevelopment of Union Square

Somerville Redevelopment Authority to Consider Union Square Revitalization Plan Wednesday

Lola June 11, 2013 at 04:45 PM
It's disheartening to me that we are taking long-time businesses away in order to create a means by which people can more easily travel to other places to frequent their businesses.
AHM June 11, 2013 at 07:51 PM
Not only that they will come out on the losing end of this. Having been through this myself it forced me to close up shop. It's not like they take you and put you in another location and you go on. Myself and many tradesmen have been using these businesses for many years.
Kate June 11, 2013 at 08:04 PM
:( I love that radiator shop. It's one of the craziest things about my 'hood that I brag about.
Josh June 12, 2013 at 07:41 PM
When people are rehabbing an old house and looking for vintage, period pieces, they'll now go elsewhere. And you're right, AHM. You do not get market value, no matter what they tell you. And what good is it when you now have no business? It's not easy when you've been somewhere for so long to pick up and move. Even if you do, often your customers don't follow you.
Sand Man June 15, 2013 at 11:16 PM
This is a harbinger of the tidal wave of gentrification soon sweeping thru Union Square--and with Mayor Joe's blessing!

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