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City commits to Assembly Square DIF plan | Post Somerville

City commits to Assembly Square DIF plan

by Tom Nash on December 3, 2010

Aldermen voted 10-0 Thursday to allow the city to submit an application to the state for a plan that would call for $25 million in city financing for a development in Assembly Square, a move that Mayor Joseph Curtatone says will save the project.

The approved plan would use a process known as District Improvement Financing for a  section of a development known as Assembly Row, which is being built by Federal Realty Investment Trust. More background is available here.

Ward 6 Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz, who voted against sending the plan to the full board at a Financial Matters Committee meeting on Tuesday, again cited concerns raised by the Mystic View Task Force and others that not enough analysis had been completed.

Gewirtz said she had met with Federal Realty Senior Vice President Don Briggs after that meeting, with whom she exchanged heated words about why the company needed the city’s money for the project.

“I wasn’t able to get an assurance that they won’t necessarily come back for more,” Gewirtz said.

Mayor Joseph Curtatone and Briggs stressed that the DIF plan as a last hope for securing the financing needed for the Orange Line T-stop necessary for the project to continue.

“I think we’ve made it pretty clear why this needs to happen now,” Curtatone said. “I can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future.”

Gewirtz said she was comfortable voting for the plan after Alderman-at-Large Bill White submitted a resolution at the meeting that emphasized the board would have final approval of the bond requests that would result from the DIF application, although a Mystic View Task Force letter posted before the vote likened Thursday’s vote  to “signing a purchase and sale on a house.”

Curtatone said aldermen would be presented with a bond proposal in the coming months. 

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