With TOD Planning, Boston Suburb Embraces a Different Brand of Urban Renewal

With the long-awaited extension of Boston's Green Line train to Somerville expected to arrive in a few years, the city has embraced a planning and development process much different from the one that "left behind some of Somerville’s worst spaces."
December 6, 2013, 12pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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From neighborhoods cleared to make room for a highway to suburban-style strip malls and industrial parks, Somerville has suffered from some of the worst effects of last century's urban renewal schemes. 

"As Somerville prepares for the first phase of the long-awaited Green Line extension, it’s looking to turn that old urban renewal model on its head," writes Paul McMorrow. "The city is embracing the legal powers of urban renewal to overhaul its Union Square neighborhood, but in a way that’s deeply grounded in the existing community. In the process, Somerville is demonstrating what modern city-building looks like: locally focused, reliant on public transit, and grounded in entrepreneurial culture."

“We’ve learned where urban renewal has failed,” Mayor Joe Curtatone says. “It fails when it focuses on building structures. We’re starting with a values base. If we didn’t plan, and let change act on us, we’d get change we don’t want.”

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Published on Friday, December 6, 2013 in The Boston Globe
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