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Newton to hold public hearing on updated Riverside proposal that includes two life sciences buildings

Developers will seek changes for a mixed-use residential, retail, and business project at the MBTA's Riverside station that was approved by Newton's City Council last year.
Developers will seek changes for a mixed-use residential, retail, and business project at the MBTA's Riverside station that was approved by Newton's City Council last year.Mark Development

Newton’s Land Use Committee and Planning and Development Board will host an April 13 public hearing on a pair of proposed life sciences buildings and other changes to the Riverside mixed-use development on Grove Street.

The public hearing is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and will be held virtually, according to the meeting’s agenda, which was posted to the city website’s Electronic Posting Board. The agenda also includes information on how to join the virtual meeting.

City councilors approved a roughly 1-million-square-foot mixed-use development in October that would bring hundreds of apartments, plus retail and commercial space, and a hotel that would replace the MBTA station’s existing parking lot and the nearby Hotel Indigo.

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In February, Mark Development and Normandy Real Estate Partners announced it would seek alterations to the approved plan, including replacing the planned hotel with a life sciences building, because of changes in the market since the onset of the pandemic, according to Robert Korff, Mark Development’s principal. Developers would reduce the amount of space for residential and retail use, and increase commercial space in the planned complex.

Korff’s proposed changes would keep the Riverside project the same size, and retain the same number of buildings — 10 — but would reduce the number of rental apartments from 582 to 550 units.

One of the proposed life sciences buildings would replace the proposed hotel, and stand about 124 feet tall, about 70 feet more than the approved hotel.

A proposed office tower on the site would be reduced from about 169 feet to about 143 feet and also serve as a second life sciences building.

Parking would increase to 2,267 spaces, from 2,032 spaces.

Korff said the changes to the Riverside plan would increase the tax benefits for Newton and reduce peak-hour car trips due to the shift to life sciences workers. Public open space also would be reduced from 1.5 acres to 1.2 acres.

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The Riverside plan approved in October came after extended negotiations with neighbors. A community group, the Lower Falls Improvement Association’s Riverside Committee, has expressed disappointment that new changes are being sought for the project.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.