As of this morning, ground has been officially broken at the future site of Assembly Row, a transit-oriented, mixed-use development that will sit on what is now a vast, 60 acre lot bordering the Mystic River. For those involved in the planning and design of Assembly Row, this morning’s groundbreaking was a true milestone in what has been an arduous, decade-long quest to transform this troubled part of Somerville into a vibrant, truly liveable area.
Efforts at the state, local, and federal levels of government, as well as cooperation with Federal Realty Investment Trust, the development group behind Assembly Row, have been successful in securing funds for a range of public infrastructure improvements. Assembly Row was the first project to receive money from the state’s Infrastructure Investment Incentive (I-Cubed) program, a program created by the state legislature and the Patrick Administration that is designed to finance the infrastructure investments needed to support private development. I-Cubed symbolizes an acknowledgement of the public-private partnership that is necessary for projects like Assembly Row to ever get off of the drawing board, and has enabled the construction of streets, intersection improvements, and storm drainage pipes that will benefit the completed development as well as the surrounding areas.
The City of Somerville should also be commended for its efforts to use every option available to the city to secure funding for Assembly Square infrastructure, including funding for the new MBTA Orange Line station that will accompany the project. The city’s use of the innovative District Improvement Financing program, a capital expenditure plan that captures revenue from growth in the city’s tax base generated by economic development projects, was the final step needed to fully fund the new T station, which is expected to be complete by 2014.
What was once the home of a Ford assembly plant that produced the ultimately unsuccessful Edsel automobile has been re-imagined and will be re-built into a shining example of smart-growth development. The ongoing redevelopment of Assembly Square has been a struggle, but I feel that it has finally gained its own momentum, and the weight of what is being created there will, with our help, carry the project through to completion.