Category Archives: Featured

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Important Meetings on Union Square Master Planning

Several strands of neighborhood and city-wide planning continue. Be part of the conversation.

The City of Somerville is dramatically revising the zoning code, Union Square is under going a detailed neighborhood plan that sets the stage for the Master Developer agreement with master developer US2, and there’s planning around the infrastructure of Union Square including public space, roadways, water/sewer, plus, anticipate station planning for the future Green Line stop at Prospect Street.

The community engagement around these strands are primarily led by Somerville by Design, an team from the City of Somerville’s planning department.

Hearings and information sessions regarding the zoning code revisions have not yet been scheduled.

The Community Advisory Committee, the group appointed by the City to represent community interests in the Master Developer selection process, has their own website with links to planning documents and a form for on-line discussion.

On twitter the conversation is using #PlanUnionSquare.


This group is designated by the City to represent the community in the master developer process. For this meeting Open Space is anticipated as the theme. See more.

March 23, 2015
6:00 PM
Argenziano School, 290 Washington Street


$1 Billion for the Green Line Extension

The Federal Transit Administration announced it will provide nearly $1 billion in New Starts funding for the Green Line Extension. Service to Union Square, Washington Street is anticipated by the end of 2017 and now Gilman Square, Lowell Street, Ball Square and College Avenue are all now on track for the year 2020. The $996 million covers about 43 percent of the entire project.
Read more about this huge news at:

Annual Flag Raising on Prospect Hill

It was a rainy Tuesday, January 1, 1776 when George Washington sent word. “Raise this flag on Prospect Hill!” he commanded his troops. So on a 76 foot schooner mast amidst the colonists’ encampment the “Grand Union” flag flew. A 13 gun salute and cheers greeted this first truly American flag and its presence bolstered the morale of colonists seeking fair representation under British rule.

This national event continues to be celebrated here in Somerville every New Year’s Day with a parade and historic reenactment. In all weather on January 1 Somerville neighbors and patriots across the land gather above Union Square. With coffee and donuts to shake the chill we wave mini-flags and proudly wear tri-corner hats to sing “America the Beautiful.” We cheer as the call rings out for the flag to be hoisted. The boom of the gun salute echo from atop the monument as together we reflect on the birth of our nation and Union Square’s place in it.

There are two ways to join the event on Thursday, January 1. Wear colonial dress and be part of the parade with fife and drum players, local dignitaries and Color Guards. The Parade leaves City Hall at 11:30 am. Or greet the marchers and participate in the flag raising on Prospect Hill at noon.

Learn the history of Prospect Hill’s role in the American Revolution through Steve Mulder’s great site.

City of Somerville Signs Master Developer Agreement with US2

The City of Somerville has signed a Master Developer agreement with US2 to execute a plan for the $1 billion redevelopment of seven designated blocks of properties in Union Square.

The agreement can be read here. 

This agreement speaks of the role of US2 in working with the City and the community for the development of a Neighborhood Plan that will include Union Square as well as Boynton Yards.  Along with this plan US2 and the City will develop plans for transportation and public space improvements. It’s expected that these plans will completed in the autumn of 2015.

The agreement states that pending approval from the Board of Aldermen, US2 can put an interim use at 267-271 Somerville Avenue, that is, the area at the corner of Somerville Avenue and Prospect Street, sometimes called the Kiley Barrel site.

This agreement also specifies that US2 and the City will negotiate and ratify one or more Community Benefits Agreements that will  address  “affordable housing, workforce development, local hiring, support to independent local retailers, sustainability in building design and site development, improvements to the public realm, and other matters consistent with the City’s goals and values identified in SomerVision.”

Key documents:



Transportation Documents:



Other resources:



USMS Seeks New Executive Director

The Board of Directors of Union Square Main Streets seeks an Executive Director to lead the organization through a new period of neighborhood change.

Union Square Main Streets (USMS) was founded in 2005 when residents and business owners came together with representatives of the city government to revive their neighborhood as a commercial and community center. Over the past ten years  Mimi Graney served as the organization’s Executive Director. During that time USMS launched and grew signature programs including the Union Square Farmers Market and the annual Fluff Festival, and helped dozens of new businesses open in what is now a nationally recognized creative hub. The organization and the neighborhood is on the cusp of significant changes as long term efforts move into new phases;  the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) has broken ground on the long-awaited Green Line Extension, which will significantly improve public transit access between Union Square and downtown Boston, and the enacting of a revitalization plan promises 2.3 million square feet of new transit oriented development across seven  blocks near that station slated to open in late 2018.

The many changes that will occur in Union Square bring with them uncertainty and opportunity. Real estate prices are rising, and much effort is needed to establish consensus among stakeholder groups with regard to housing, green space, and preferred modes of transportation. Already the demographics and the business landscape are changing. At this time of rapid transformation, USMS commits to continue to:

  • Support existing businesses to ensure they can thrive in this changing environment
  • Recruit and facilitate the opening of new businesses that enhance the quality of life in Union Square
  • Promote development and execute activities and initiatives that increase pedestrian traffic through the square, particularly during the day time
  • Engage business owners, landlords, residents, and city representatives in collaborating and facilitating the building of a “More Perfect Union”

Reporting to the USMS Board of Directors, the Executive Director is responsible for the day to day operations of USMS and serves as an external champion, organization builder, and internal manager during this period of exciting growth.

For details on the position and how to apply, follow this link. 

US2 Convenes Business Roundtable

US2, the anticipated master developer for Union Square’s disposition parcels, continues its community engagement effort with a Business Roundtable on Tuesday, October 21 from 8-9:30 AM at Greentown Labs in Union Square.

They hope to engage current and future Union Square businesses in conversations about the region’s office and retail markets now and in the future. During the event  a panel of experts will discuss market trends in the region, the impact of these trends on Somerville, and upcoming opportunities on which Somerville can focus followed by an open discussion.