Redevelopment of Naval Station to Create 10,000 Jobs

Words: Dan KamysRedevelopment of Naval Station to Create 10,000 Jobs



By Peter Howe

U.S. Navy officials are set to sign papers next week to sell the old South Weymouth (Mass.) Naval Air Station – closed in 1997 – to developers planning to create a $2.5 billion new community during the next decade.

It promises to turn the old, 1,400-acre World War II anti-submarine blimp base into 3,000 homes close to MBTA commuter rail; an office park with as much space as Boston’s John Hancock Tower; a walkable village-square shopping complex totaling about 200,000 square feet, with 70 percent of the area saved as open space; wildlife habitat; and an 18-hole golf course. A four-lane parkway through the site will connect Routes 228 and 18, and reconnect neighborhoods of South Weymouth, Rockland, and Abington (all in Massachusetts) long separated by the base.

“The master plan, the smart growth community that we've all been planning for, will be able to come to fruition," Kevin Chase, VP of LNR and head of the SouthField development project, said in an interview.

Already, LNR is building out and selling and renting $130 million of new apartments, homes, and an assisted-living complex, all within walking distance of the South Weymouth rail stop that’s just 28 minutes, and two or three stops depending on schedule, from South Station in Boston. The $25 million purchase agreement to be signed next week with the Navy will cover the 700 acres at the heart of the base and clarify the Navy’s legal responsibility to clean up what are believed to be relatively minor fuel and cleaning solvent spills on the site from its days as an active military facility.

U.S. Representative William R. Keating, whose current district includes all three towns with property inside the air base zone, said he was thrilled the Navy’s finally come to terms on a sale.

“That was the last major hurdle in trying to really get a deal done. That's going to produce 10,000 jobs - construction jobs and permanent jobs in our region. That's a big deal,’’ Keating said. “It couldn't come at a better time for people who need work.’’

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