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Developer proposes 18-story tower at Arsenal Mall

Watertown News reports that the company turning the old Arsenal Mall into one of those au courant mixed-use developments, to be called Arsenal Yards, says an 18-story tower would be skinnier than the squatter 12-story building it originally wanted to put up, so more open space and, bonus, more sunlight to hit that open space, and who doesn't like sunlight on open space? Also, yeah, they could charge more for condos 18 stories up. However, not everybody in town is thrilled with the idea.

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In this location, a higher slender building I think is a good tradeoff to allow more open space at the ground level. The nearest residential neighborhood (of 1-2 family units) is at least 1/2 mile away, so the impact there is minimal.

This part of Watertown is in for a big, and I think mostly positive change as it moves away from auto oriented strip mall development to a more walkable and denser community, and yes that comes with high rise buildings. As part of this change, the Town needs to secure it's plans for open space, both public and private, and higher buildings allow for more green at the ground.

10 or 20 years from now I think people will hardly notice that 12 (or 18) story tower as there will be others in the area. Now we just need to extend the A line again back to Watertown...

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Totally agree. There have been a lot of changes in Watertown and Arlington - more housing (though some of it pretty expensive), hip places opening up, investments into green spaces and rail trails. But traffic has gotten worse, I won't even think of driving through Alewife in the morning where 10 years ago it was a regular commute. As the housing prices in the surrounding communities keep skyrocketing, the influx of people into the Metro Boston area keeps increasing, and the traffic gets worse, we will need to start looking at denser building and improving public transit. The mid-19th century American Dream of everyone owning a car and living in a large house with a back yard cannot be supported indefinitely without creating gridlock and crazy commute times (look at what's going on already on 93 and 3).
We will need to stop NIMBY'ing the high-rise towers but also make sure that we're not simply introducing more cars on the roads with these suburban pockets of density. Improve public transit quality, routing, and reliability. Ridership will need to increase - chicken and egg problem. Influence public opinion about transit - transit is good!

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Governor’s Councilor Marilyn Pettito Devaney said she worries about firefighters’ safety, since the ladder trucks would not even be able to reach half way up the building.

“They will have to climb up 18 floors carrying their heavy gear,” Pettito Devaney said. “I’m concerned about this building and our firefighters.”

Councilor Devaney is apparently unaware of the previous century of constructing buildings beyond 3 stories in America. The firefighters will be just fine.

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When I read her comment in the article, I thought OMG I work on the 20th floor of a building! Firefighters cannot reach me?! What am I going to do?!

Oh wait, no I didn't think that.

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Given that this might be the tallest building in Watertown (I'm not sure if the Perkins School tower would be bigger, but bell towers are pretty different from a firefighting perspective) it's understandable that a town would feel stressed at having to push the limits of what sort of buildings they're able to save. But even so, opposing change because it's more than you're used to is a recipe for no change at all.

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I remember when somerville became the new cambridge.

is watertown the new somerville? or is medford the new somerville?

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..when a real estate ad would never say something like "Medford, on the Somerville line". Winchester yes, always "on the Winchester line". Now ads regularly tout a Medford property's proximity to Somerville.

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As someone who is in the area of the future Arsenal Yards every damn day, and a former Somerville resident, it's definitely not Somerville.

The issue is twofold: would the higher, narrower building be an improved design for the space (adjacent to Arsenal Park).

I'd give a qualified "yes".

Should all of the buildings in the development be made taller?

Nope. And a number of us are worried about that, as we're simultaneously dealing with the ongoing development in the Pleasant Street Corridor on the other end of town.

Somerville has infinitely better MBTA resources (primarily buses) than the 59, 71, 70, 50x. Watertown needs better supply on the 70 route (and please don't get me started on the 70A), a route that gets you from the malls to the 71 and 73, and a river-route bus from Watertown Square to Waltham Center. None of which are likely to happen. Let alone the A line.

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Should all of the buildings in the development be made taller?

Nope. And a number of us are worried about that

Why are you worried about taller buildings specifically?

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