Who We Are
Neighbors for a Better Newtonville is a group of residents who want to preserve and strengthen the best of what our village offers, while encouraging such change as will enhance and invigorate it.
Newtonville has a diverse population and we want to promote that diversity.
Our buildings and streets, even where dense and commercial, have a human scale that encourages neighborliness and a feeling of community, and this too we want to maintain and continuously strengthen.
We are happy to work with our neighbors and with our city government to maintain and improve what is best in our village.
Our (Brief) History
We first met on March 31, 2016 as an informal association of neighbors concerned about a large real estate development proposed for the corner of Washington and Walnut Streets in Newtonville (often called “The Orr Block”). It was planned by real estate developer Robert Korff, who bought the block’s current buildings, paying over $22 million for them. Korff’s proposed complex would be five stories high and take up the whole city block of 2.85 acres. It would include 171 apartments plus 40,000 square feet of commercial space. We neighbors felt that this development would be completely out of scale with the village as it is, and would present major challenges in terms of traffic, parking, taxes, commerce and sense of community.
Since first coming together, our efforts have been focused on minimizing the scale of the Orr project. The specific issue is zoning. Developer Korff needs a zoning change in order to build to the scale he wants. We are opposing this zoning change. To be sure, the land is private property and now belongs to Korff, but he should build within current zoning (as he has the right to do). The result will be a far smaller structure and will present correspondingly fewer difficulties to the community.
Compounding the Orr project’s impact, another out-sized project will soon be breaking ground just across the Mass Pike from Orr. That project — the Austin Street project — will be a very large new building of 68 apartments, plus commercial space, on the current Austin Street parking lot, next to Star Market. And a third project, already underway, promises still another 36 units on nearby Court Street. The Austin Street project has already been the subject of fierce controversy, being far larger than any other residential structure near the Village Center. It was apparent to us that adding another 171 units at Orr, without first seeing the impact of Austin Street, would be a great folly.
Although most of our efforts have been directed toward the Orr block development, we are more broadly concerned with the other developments described above, and with a wave of future urban-type development that is being championed by the Mayor of Newton.