It's about partnerships in different dimensions: Re-envisioning and re-permitting one of Massachusetts' largest mixed-use developments
University Station is an exciting 2 million square foot mixed-use development on 120 acres in Westwood, Massachusetts that opened in March 2015. Featuring retail, residential, office, and hotel uses, the project is the culmination of the revitalization of an old industrial site and the re-envisioning of a previous master plan. New England Development partnered with Eastern Real Estate, National Development, and Clarion Partners in 2012 to develop and realize a new plan for this pivotal site, located adjacent to the Amtrak/MBTA Station on Interstate 95 / Route 128.
The previous development plan for the site, featuring 4.5 million square feet, $150 million in infrastructure improvements, 5,000 parking spaces, and uses built over one another, had not been realized. New England Development and our partners needed to develop a plan that would work financially and programmatically, while also navigating the substantial permitting challenges necessary for a project of this scope. NED needed to begin the permitting process afresh, working closely with a very committed Board of Selectman for the town of Westwood as well as with many other town and state officials and permitting entities.
NED’s master plan, allowing the project to be developed in phases, includes 750,000 square feet of retail, 350,000 square feet of office space, 650 residential units, 100 assisted living/memory care units, and 160 hotel rooms.
NED and our partners involved the entire town of Westwood in the approval process––a risky but inclusive approach. At a Town Meeting, the capacity crowd (and record turn-out), approved the new zoning overlay district, enabling the long-awaited project to move forward. NED's close work with the Town of Westwood, the Finance Committee, Board of Selectmen, and other officials set the positive tone for the ongoing approvals process and allowed construction of Phase 1 Retail and Residential to begin immediately.
Retailers, including Wegmans, Target and Nordstrom Rack, quickly committed to leasing space at University Station, seeing both the strength of the market and that of the development team. The result: 550,000 square feet of retail opened in 2015, as did Gables Residential, a brand new, luxury apartment community featuring 350 units; Bridges at University Station, a 64-unit assisted living residence specializing in memory care; and Life Time Fitness, a 125,000 square foot fitness center – their first in New England.
University Station has also welcomed a variety of office building and businesses. The first phase of a new Brigham and Women’s Health Care Center—Westwood opened in 2018 and is a multi-specialty, outpatient clinic that includes an urgent care facility providing area residents with access to high-quality care in a local and convenient community setting. Brigham and Women’s will expand their services into a second phase building, projected to open in 2021. Two additional office buildings expected to open Fall of 2020 at University Station include a four-story building that will serve as the regional headquarters for Citizens Bank and a two-story building for Meketa Investment Group.
Remaining development opportunities at University Station include two, 2.5 acre parcels, both of which can accommodate approximately 50,000 square feet of office and/or hotel/retail uses.