The Wellesley Board of Selectmen on Monday voted to enter negotiations with developer Trinity Financial Group for ground leases of the Tailby and Raillroad Avenue parking lots, which could wind up the sites of new luxury and mixed-income residential buildings, park space and even a theater and gallery space.
The Town, which has considered other uses for this space in years past, has been prompted to give such development more serious attention in light of nearby 40B housing proposals, school building developments and other projects that could have a huge impact on Wellesley’s traffic, population density and character. As with the recently approved housing production plan, the Town says it is looking to take more control over its destiny.
Trinity Financial, which was the unanimous recommendation by a working group of neighbors and others earlier this year, beat out 2 other finalists to earn the Board of Selectmen’s nod (with one member encouraging her fellow board members to hit the pause button, before reluctantly agreeing to work with them on a solution). The Selectmen lauded Trinity for its professionalism, community outreach and creative vision, including ideas on how to connect the Washington Street and Central Street districts.
The Selectmen emphasized that their selection of Trinity does not mean that a development will take place. Board member Marjorie Freiman said she sees the town as being in investigative mode in talking with Trinity against a backdrop in which the town has recently approved a housing production plan and has been developing a broader unified plan focused on the community’s vision for Wellesley as a place in which to work, live, play and learn.
Neighbors who spoke at the Board of Selectmen meeting urged the town not to go ahead with the Tailby/Railroad negotiations. One neighborhood spokeswoman said the possible development sounded more appealing as an alternative to nearby 40B developments, but said that it would be “irresponsible” to take further steps until the 40B proposals and other relevant town projects are resolved. One member of the Board noted how this area is already “under siege” when it comes to parking and traffic.
The Board’s take is that it’s at least worth exploring possibilities with Trinity in the event that a development could actually address parking issues, allow the town to reach some of its housing goals and even enliven downtown.