Developers Submit Proposed Project for Sterritt Lumber Site

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Nordblom Company An illustration of the proposed life science building for 148 Waltham St., the former Sterritt Lumber site.

Developers have submitted plans for a lab building to be built on the former Sterritt Lumber site on the Westside of Watertown.

On Aug. 8, the Nordblom Company filed for a special permit with site plan review by the City of Watertown on behalf of the owners, Watertown Owner LLC to construct an office lab/R&D (research and development) building at 148 Waltham Street.

The project is the second proposal for the former Sterritt Lumber site, near Bemis Park, in West Watertown. The first proposal, in early 2020, was for a 40B housing project with a 253-unit apartment building.

Developers held a community meeting for the current proposal on May 26, 2022.

The two-story building would be 39-feet tall with about 67,000 sq. ft. of floor space, and 137 parking spaces. The front of the building would be between 16 feet and 56 feet from the property line. The project also includes publicly-accessible open space along Waltham Street, streetscape improvements, and improvements to the stormwater system.

The parking and loading areas would be in the back of the building. The proposed parking lot includes eight electric vehicle charging stations, and the vehicle entrance would be on Green River Way (the street on which the entrance to the Watertown Recycling Center is located). The building would also have 40 bicycle parking spots: 20 inside and 20 outside.

Currently, there are three metal buildings on the property, and the rest of the site is paved over. The proposed project would include landscaping and have 26.5 percent open space, and 23.1 percent of the property would be permeable.

Developers plan to pursue LEED Silver certification.

See the project documents by clicking here (look under “Project Status”).

8 thoughts on “Developers Submit Proposed Project for Sterritt Lumber Site

    • Well what else do we expect developers to do? Any time any developer proposed building places for people to live, everyone freaks out and says “what about mah parking??,” and these projects end up denied or tied up in red tape.

      If it’s illegal to build housing, people will build something else. And if we are worried about overbuilding life sciences, perhaps we could try to stop coming up with contrived reasons why every single apartment or condo building should not be built.

  1. Yes, I understand that not all development is bad and the lot is zoned for commercial use. Therefore, something will be built on the former Sterritt Lumber and Wholesale Door property. That said, apparently we don’t have enough lab space in the City of Watertown, yet but that’s a subject for another day. The fact is that THIS PROJECT IS MONSTROUSLY TOO LARGE for the Bemis Park residential neighborhood which it abuts. Second, have we learned nothing from the canyon-style building on Pleasant Street which our city more than generously granted with special permitting granted solely by the Planning Board (without review by the Zoning Board of Appeals) in order to encourage commercial redevelopment of the once blighted Pleasant Street corridor? Seriously,it seemed like a good idea at the time but does anyone think the new Pleasant Street is going to win any architectural design awards anytime soon? How about stepping the building back from the street? What happened to design review relative to neighboring structures? Do we care about Traffic flow? (Ie. Where do these cars go and can our streets handle them?). Is the project “not be more detrimental” than what previously existed on the site? Finally, most would agree that it is clearly not optimal to add 137 more cars traveling through a residential neighborhood with a playground directly across the street. At one point there was (and still may be) conversation about the entrance road from Waltham Street extending all the way to Pleasant Street. Perhaps access to this development limited to Pleasant Street could mitigate the amount of traffic flowing directly into our residential neighborhood. But if that’s the case why is the building being built facing the neighborhood? Perhaps the building should be built on the other side of the lot away from the Little League playground it abuts. I hope our elected officials and voluntary boards strongly consider the negative effect this development will have on the immediate neighborhood if access is allowed from Waltham Street. We still have a chance to get this project right.
    To those that agree that this project doesn’t fit the neighborhood I suggest you call your elected officials. The option is to deny the permit and take the property by Eminent Domain. Imagine all the open space, recreational space and trees that could be developed and paid by the millions in new tax revenue created by the hyper lab development taking place all over the City of Watertown today. Dream? We only have approximately 4 square miles.

  2. It’s good that planning now includes these types of consideration. “The proposed project would include landscaping and have 26.5 percent open space, and 23.1 percent of the property would be permeable.”

    Shading and/or consideration for cooling roof/pavement should also be included.

  3. The “Community” Meeting held was a “Zoom” meeting which, IMO, does not equate to nor is it as effective as an actual face to face public presentation. After that one developer controlled proposal presentation it appears it’s up to our approving boards to determine the future of and mitigation of any negative impacts from this project. It seems that legally what is being proposed is within the acceptable zoning for that area. Unfortunately, the impacts of the new development will undoubtedly result in negative impacts to the adjacent residential neighborhoods. One example being the idea of this development meeting Watertown’s traffic control goals. While certainly admirable they are just that, goals, not a bar to be met for project acceptance. The development attempts to achieve Watertown’s traffic mitigation goals and in the meantime traffic is worse, automobile volume will undoubtedly be worse. Speed bumps on Rutland and stricter speed limit enforcement on Waltham St are now a must. In addition, the answer to the current traffic nightmare on Pleasant and Bridge streets is NOT opening Green River Way between Waltham and Pleasant. Simply having a 40+ foot high building separated from a neighborhood of one and two story homes by a 25’ road in and of itself would seem problematic. Although the proposal has a number of positive aspects that does not eliminate the negatives voiced on that Zoom meeting and while the project moves forward it is the responsibility of the developers and Watertown regulators to ensure negative impacts are minimized or mitigated for.

  4. As a Rutland St home owner this makes my head hurt and heart ache. So many use Rutland as a cut through and its already “one lane” most of the way, people impatiently waiting for the opposing flow to come through. Add this in and it’s going to be a nightmare.

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