Construction to Begin on Woburn Mall This Summer, Traffic a Concern
Mar 28, 2019 10:40PM
● By Dan Marra
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WOBURN – And then there was one.
Locks and Keys is the last tenant at the Woburn Mall. The locksmith has only a limited time left in their location as EDENS – a national real estate developer that purchased the mall last year – works to find a new location for the mall's final tenant.
According to a spokesperson for EDENS, construction on “WoburnVillage” could begin as early as this summer with the first retail shops opening in the winter of 2020.
Alongside this project, Avalon Bay, a real estate investment company, will be constructing 350 housing units on the property. Twenty-five percent of those units will be affordable and all of the units would be counted towards the state mandated 10 percent subsidized housing inventory. This would move Woburn, which currently has 8.7 percent affordable units, above the 10 percent threshold and will protect the city from future 40B projects for the next 10 years.
However, the concern for Woburn and for the City Council is the increase in traffic this new development could bring to the area.
According to a traffic study conducted by EDENS, “that incremental traffic associated with the proposed development is not expected to impact operating conditions at the study intersections and ample roadway capacity will be available to support the project.”
But that study raised some eyebrows among city council members, specifically aldermans Darlene Mercer-Bruen and Richard Gately.
“No reasonable person can say that this reboot of this mall and a 350 unit development isn’t going to have an impact,” Mercer-Bruen said. “This mall was purchased by EDENS to redevelop a site that nobody went to. Nobody went there for years. There’s no way there’s no impact.”
Gately’s concerned focused on the study’s expectation that the site will not be impacted because there will be a focus on encouraging people to use “non-motorized travel modes” which includes pedestrian walkways and bicycling in the area.
“I don’t envision people on bicycles going along Commerce Way and Mishawum Road to get to this project,” Gately said. “Any project that comes into the city that requires a review of traffic, not one time has traffic had any impact on the city. The conclusion is that everything is fine, but it’s not fine.”
The city council is also awaiting a peer reviewed study on traffic in the Woburn Mall area.
As for the tenants of the mall, with the exception of the legacy stores – TJ Maxx, Market Basket, DSW and Homesense – most of the other properties that had occupied Woburn Mall will not be returning. Market Basket will be the only storefront that does not move locations.
When it opens, Woburn Village promises to have new retail shops and restaurants, as well as a cinema component, but traffic will remain a concern for residents and the city.
“It’s great to see the mall as something that’s high end,” Mercer-Bruen said. “What residents of the city have said is we have got to do something about the traffic and that’s on [EDENS] now.”
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