Watertown will miss Russo’s. Tony has been a friend to many of us (and our dogs) and has worked to implement Watertown Local First, the single use plastic bag ban (in the days before the pandemic), and supported green issues in town. He also has taken it upon himself to organize cleanups of the public space beside his property to the river.
We are sorry to see him sell, but I am most concerned about the land use between Russo’s and the river. Watertown has an important role to play in saving our long riverfront for access by the public.
The Pleasant Street Corridor Plan prohibits housing. This is a great mistake and seems generated by the cry for no more traffic. Commercial zoning goes dark nights and weekends and deprives people who are already residing nearby of a destination of restaurants, cafes, specialized markets, bike and boat rentals, etc, etc. We could also support our artists with live-work space, galleries, and performance spaces. I’m not talking about building a mall — that is a product of past days and building use is being reinvented.
Creative mixed-use here is the perfect solution with needed housing. Residents are shoppers. It could be our newest active neighborhood and keep people, not biotech, along the lovely riverfront.
During the pandemic we have all been walking more and further and driving less. With the September start of the shuttle bus, access to Pleasant Street will be almost town wide and contribute to a lively, walkable neighborhood.
Let’s commit to doing some needed Planning and changing the Zoning to accommodate the post-covid-when-it-comes needs of people for public spaces and residences all along our treasured riverfront where it is beautiful.
Prohibits housing ? Are there not over 1,000 new housing units developed along pleasant st in last 10 years?
Yes let’s stop biotech? We should be grateful for the innovation into saving the world with the vaccine. Let’s be thankful to them.
It’s private property too. Turn your home into public space for people.
Jack, the 2 sides of Pleasant St are zoned differently. The side by the river does not allow housing currently while the side across the street does.
Not true. There are hundreds of apartments and condos on the river side of pleasant st.
You are correct, but the Russo’s land is zoned so residential is not allowed. I believe it is PS3 (Pleasant St. Corridor 3)
I always chuckle at the Watertown Nimbys whining about those villainous biotech companies. If they paid any attention they’d notice the new biotech buildings have had zero negative effects on the quality of life of the town.
Maybe a subtle difference, but IMO it’s not that biotech has a negative effect – it’s that it doesn’t have much of a positive effect on the neighborhood either. It’s not that biotech is a villain, but we can still lament the loss of what else could have gone there instead…
New development will always be a trade off between encouraging business to offset taxes and retaining the unique town and neighborhood feel that Watertown has. The former has been served well by the city government, but the latter has not. The former has allowed us to build new schools without a tax override amidst rising property values and new restaurants, but the latter has left us grappling with more traffic, noise, invasive lighting and the loss of neighborhood staples like Russo’s. Barbara’s point to revise our city vision with better zoning and planning is important and not just a NIMBY reaction. I get tired of being accused of being against development when the ask is just more thoughtful and creative planning. It is possible to do things better and many of us wrongly accused NIMBIES are just trying to push the city to do just that.
As far as I can see the mixed use concept is not working. There are a number of these new developments on Arsenal St. and Pleasant St. that have empty retail/business spaces on the ground floors. Small businesses can’t afford to move into these small spaces and there is limited parking for the clients/customers. If the new owner is willing to be sure that people have access to some green space and the riverfront, that would be great, but they are paying big bucks for this property and the decision is ultimately theirs.
Jack and Biotech lover–but do biotech or insurance companies, or whatever, take precedence for existing in the most beautiful spots in Watertown? Can’t we reserve riverfront for housing (and creative mixed use, as mentioned) so residents can enjoy the views and access? Sasaki is another property being sacrificed. Biotech and other companies that go dark nights and weekends are not welcoming for the community.
My point is that there are plenty of spots facing Pleasant Street and other streets in Watertown for large commercial developments, just not right on the river.
We have added more than a thousand units of housing on this stretch of land over last 10 years.