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Symmes advances: Assisted-living facility, expanded park sought

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The long-delayed project at the former Symmes Hospital site, the largest building effort in Arlington history, advanced Thursday, Dec. 22, as hopes were expressed for an assisted-living facility and an expanded park. In addition, the name of a potential equity partner was disclosed.

Meeting at Town Hall with 17 people present, Jake Upton, representing the developer, Arlington 360 LLC, introduced David Holland of the Shelter Group, which has plans for an 80- to 90-unit assisted-living facility for senior citizens on the lower slope beside Hospital Road. For it to be built, a special permit must be approved. The process to seek that permit is to begin in January.

Those present also saw a schematic of "Vista Park," in an area of about two acres immediately east of the proposed assisted-living buildings, the past location of a proposed medical office building. The redeveloper has proposed buying the area for $400,000.

In addition, an information sheet Upton provided identified the equity partner as Starwood Capital Group, described as a large investor in condominium projects. Starwood was previously associated with hotel development.

Construction financing was estimated at $50 million to $60 million.

"All parties are fully committed," said Upton, with Upton + Partners of Dedham, designated with the Jefferson Apartment Group (JAG) and Starwood as the 18-acre site's redeveloper.

If plans go the redeveloper's way, construction on the project, to include 176 condos on the upper part of the site, would begin next spring. Targeted completion for that part is 2014. The assisted-living project, if it gets the permit, would begin next summer and take about 72 months.

A deal with Starwood is expected by the middle or end of January.

Shelter Group's area presence

Holland, who said he is "very excited" about his company's role in the plan, said the Shelter Group has built and manages six facilities for residential and assisted living in the Boston area, among those in 23 communities. Three called Brightview are in WoburnBillerica and Danvers.

He said his company encourages those who are in a community to stay put when considering assisted living and that Brightview hires locally.

Holland said he thought assisted-living buildings would generate as much as $125,000 in annual tax revenue. No estimate about tax revenue from the condo units was provided that night.

"We're trying to communicate, to listen," Upton said, adding he had met recently with the Transportation Advisory Committee, a volunteer board that helps the selectmen about traffic-related issues. It dates from 2001, the year the town began pursuing the Symmes project.

Jim Doherty, a member of the town Board of Assessors and a builder, had a number of suggestions, including having the uphill part of the project start first.

Upton said the target for that to happen is May 1 to 15.

If for some reason the assisted-living plan does not work out, Upton said, the redevelopers would return to the previous goal to have 24 townhomes on that site.

The Symmes project is expected to yield an estimated $725,000 in permitting fees.

Further information provided by Upton


Arlington 360, a joint venture among Upton + Partners, Starwood Capital Group and JAG has been approved as the redeveloper of the Symmes Hospital Redevelopment project. Upton will be the development member of Arlington 360, which owns the property and will continue to be a co-owner of the project upon completion.

As the development member and owner of Arlington 360, Upton will:

-- Manage the development and lead the on-site construction

-- Be the project’s liaison with the town and neighborhood, acting as the lead in any negotiations necessary with the parties to the settlement agreement

-- Lead the repermitting efforts for the proposed assisted living and expanded Vista Park

-- Manage the neighborhood protection plan and

-- Be the primary point of contact for media inquiries.


The project is planned for 200 residential units with 146 flats and 54 townhomes in variety of one-, two- and three-bedroom homes (the existing program under the current special permit)

15% of the homes are reserved for households at 80% AMI or less and 5% of the units are reserved for households at 120% AMI

Per the approved amendment to the land agreement, the redeveloper is pursuing programmatic modifications to the current plan to bring it in alignment with the town's preferred development program (aka 'The Upton Plan'). This preferred program includes the following:

-- Main Buildings: Buildings #3 and #4 (146 units) and town home cluster C (L2 units) and town home cluster D (6 units) and associated site plan are unchanged from the original approved plan.

-- Condominium Sales: The redeveloper will build 12 townhomes A/B Cluster as the in the currently approved and will market them for initial delivery as for sale townhomes. Marketing of the units will begin prior to completion of the townhomes and will continue for a minimum of 12 months, including months 3 after recording the condominium documents

-- The redeveloper will continue to regularly meet with residential brokers stay abreast of the current market for condominium and townhouse sales

-- Senior Assisted-Living Facility: 80 to 90 units will be built in of the medical office building and its associated parking garage, as well as the 24 townhomes on the lower portion of the site

-- The redeveloper is finalizing plans an agreement to sell a land parcel to Shelter Inc.

• Incorporating the senior living use will preserve a medical use on the Symmes site

-- Expanded Vista Park: The redeveloper is also pursuing the expansion of the park on land that was previously designated for a medical office building. The park will be subject to the conservation restrictions and maintenance obligations.

Any amendments to the project program will require approval of the former appellant group to modify the existing settlement agreement.

The redeveloper will use best efforts to sell the 12 condominiums in the A/B cluster and convert the lower 24 townhomes to a senior assisted-living use. In the event that either of these alternatives do not work for reasons beyond the redeveloper's control, it is necessary that the redeveloper retain its rights to develop the program under the originally approved special permit.


The property was sold at foreclosure auction on Nov. 30 to Arlington 360 which will enable the development of the project to proceed as soon as possible.

The land agreement was amended on Dec. 12, 2011.

Building permits were issued for the approved plan on Dec. 14, 2011.

Marketing and sales efforts for the 12 townhome units in clusters A and B is expected to begin this winter.

This story was first reported Friday, Dec. 23, 2011.

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