Developers Have Vision for Site at Pleasant St. & Rosedale Ave.

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Broder/CBT An illustration of the potential designs for a project at Pleasant Street and Rosedale Avenue, which would include a life science building, a garage and retail space.

A project has been envisioned for a major parcel on Pleasant Street that would add a life science building, retail and a parking garage.

Broder and CBT seek a Site Plan Review application for a project on the former Cannistraro property (and the former home of the Plumbing Museum) at the corner of Pleasant Street and Rosedale Ave. The project includes multiple parcels: 275 & 313 Pleasant St., 80 Rosedale Road and 60 Acton St.

Project documents were submitted to the Watertown Planning Department and posted on the City website on Nov. 3, 2022. It is in the pre-application phase, where it is being reviewed by the Watertown Planning staff, but no formal application has been made.

In a letter to the Watertown Planning Department, developers said they want the project to “positively transform an impervious and privatized existing site into a more welcoming environment that actively invites residents and workers onto the campus to enjoy the many community benefits planned.”

Broder/CBT An overhead look at the parcels proposed to be developed at 275 & 313 Pleasant St., 80 Rosedale Road, and 60 Acton St.

The designs include a new four-story life science/office building, and a new garage. The project would create a ‘Central Green’ which would serve as a park space for residents and workers.

The life science building would have 83,355 sq. ft. of office space, 83,355 sq. ft. of research and development space, and 100 below-grade parking spaces, according to the traffic impact study. The drawings show the building would be 81 feet high, including the 15 feet for mechanical equipment on the roof.

The seven-level garage would have about 475 parking spaces plus 11,920 sq. ft. of retail/maker space. It would be 66 feet tall, without the solar panel array on the top floor. There would also be approximately 65 surface spaces. The parking would accommodate current on-site buildings, the new lab parking, and overflow parking from the Central Rock Gym (which is next to the proposed project but not part of it). The existing building at 313 Pleasant St. is part of the project and will remain.

Broder/CBT The proposed project at the former Cannistraro property would include a parking garage with retail space, a life science building, and a new central green area.

The plans would also reduce the flooding impact of the site by cutting the amount of asphalt and other impervious parts of the site, and adding street trees. Developers also want to make the site more inviting.

“(T)he project will contribute high-quality public retail and open green spaces that bring people and families together, as well as landscaped connections to the surrounding neighborhoods, Charles River Greenway, and improved bicycle and pedestrian circulation,” the letter reads.

A central open space will be created, with a “cyclist-friendly amenity” for tenants and the broader community, according to the project narrative. The open space would include a lawn space, a covered pavilion, and a variety of seating areas, according to the narrative.

Click here to see the documents submitted to the Planning Department (scroll down to Click Here for Applications, Reports, Plans, and other project documents).

33 thoughts on “Developers Have Vision for Site at Pleasant St. & Rosedale Ave.

  1. The life science buildings needs to be capped. and to boot another proposal right on the pleasant street corridor where two have already been approved….ENOUGH is ENOUGH. the traffic and quality of living to the residents needs to be a priority to the city manager, councilors and planning committee

  2. Please! Can we start requiring developers to put parking garages underground? It’s done all over Europe, so I see no reason why it can’t be done here. Aren’t we all. tired of looking at piles of concrete ramps – especially in the more residential neighborhoods!

  3. Overall, an improvement to current conditions but the life sciences building is too tall. Illustration suggests 4 stories, should be 3 stories so as not to loom over nearby residential buildings.

    Pleasant and Bridge Streets are already impassable during rush hour. This plan calls for a total of 640 parking spaces – really???

  4. I agree with the above commenter. This “cycle friendly amenity” with seating areas and a covered pavilion will only serve the tenants and employees of the development. I agree that “enough is enough.” Throwing in some green space as if it benefits the community as a whole is misleading. This project needs to be significantly scaled down.

    • They all do that. Throw the community a few bones that very few (if any), residents will ever use or benefit from. As if they’re doing us a great service and favor that we should be thankful for.

      Addressing some of the sentiments posted here, I agree that things are getting way out of hand with all the new development, and there’s still more yet to come that dwarfs this one. We’ve reached a tipping point that’s on the verge of consuming and decimating the community if something isn’t done to stop the spread.

      Enough is ENOUGH!

  5. And we thought WE ALREADY HAD TOO MUCH traffic on Rosedale to Pleasant St. and proceeding east to the Square and west to Bridge St.! What is this going to do to us? And what is it going to do to the traffic on Main St. and more traffic to the Square. What is it going to do to the quality of life in our neighborhoods of single and two-family houses on Acton St. and adjacent streets?

    These huge developments should not be allowed any more. They don’t seem to helping to keep our taxes lower. These life science jobs probably aren’t ones that local residents will be qualified to work at, and there aren’t enough available houses in the area to keep workers local and prevent them from adding to to our existing traffic and congestion issues.

    We don’t yet know the results of the increased traffic at the new proposed Russo’s and Sterritt Lumber sites as they won’t start until next Spring, so any traffic studies that will be presented on this project can’t possibly be accurate. Maybe there should be a moratorium placed on new buildings until we see the results of the ones already in the pipeline.

    How can the city do the proposed traffic and Watertown Sq. rotary study when we don’t know the effects of all this increased traffic? When will this new site proposal come before the community for their input?

    • Could not agree more. the city needs to hit the pause button and see what the mess they have already approved does to this end of Watertown before allowing more to an already bad situation for residents

    • I am a Watertown resident for 7 years, homeowner and taxpayer. My doctor, dentist and hair stylist are located in Watertown. And, like other Watertown residents, I’m qualified for some of those biotech jobs because I put in significant time and effort to make myself qualified (deserves respect). I want more people like me to move to Watertown, so they can both live and work in the same town.

  6. Way to big for that area of pleasant st traffic is bad enough that area is more residential on other side of it I grew up on Morton st and that is not what we need if anything the town should take it and make a park I hope the town sees that the street can’t support the traffic

  7. If only our town councilors started reading these comments! The sentiment from around town and especially this neighborhood is that enough is enough. Please email your town councilors and our town planners ASAP. Make your voices heard. They will tell you that they are working on remodeling the “Comprehensive Plan” but by the time that actually gets done, there won’t be anything left in Watertown to develop, it will all be done already. Every possible space will be snapped up and turned into the standard 5 floor biotech space. Developers own this town and the council. Our planning department has missed opportunity after opportunity and we the residents get stuck with the aftermath.

    This development is too big for the neighborhood. The shadow study as seen in the documents is going to affect dozens of homeowners! This alone should be a red flag!

    Biotech is slowing down and another staff reduction at the company which was just featured in the globe article 3wks ago should be yet another warning:

    SQZ Biotech stated in an SEC filing that it is cutting 60% of staff in a complete overhaul of focus and strategy. As part of the restructuring, Armon Sharei, Ph.D, will step down as CEO, to be replaced by Howard Bernstein, M.D., Ph.D, the company’s former chief financial officer and current member of the board

    • The response is always the same it’s too late to do anything and yet the residents have urged councilors and planning committee to take action and no one has taken a stance for the neighborhoods and residents. There will be no community or neighborhood structure left with all the traffic and congestion being allowed to invade the West end of Watertown. The quality of life of the constituents does not seem to be the major focus of any of the elected officials or leaders. Time for the council, the city manager and planning boards to stand up and protect our neighborhoods

  8. Why is a city of about four square miles now ground zero for biolabs? It is past time for a moratorium on life-science projects. Throwing in trees, green space, and “pavilions” is just developer hucksterism to persuade residents that they should go along with another project that is detrimental to their interests.

    The question as a recent Globe OpEd asked is: “If you build it, where will they live?” Has it not come to the consideration of Watertown’s planning and development professionals and its elected officials that concentrations of life-science workers are likely to send the cost of housing into the stratosphere? According to the Globe story (11/27), the average annual salary of the nearly 107,000 life science workers in the state comes to $201,549 — well over the state’s median household income of $84,385, according to census data. As these life-sciences companies expand their head count, neither Boston, nor the metro area have figured out how to build housing where people want to live. There is simply not enough housing being built in Greater Boston, and it all comes back to the solution — density.

    The nonprofit Up for Growth released a study earlier this year ranking Massachusetts at No. 11 for the worst housing deficit in the country, with 108,000 more homes needed each year to meet demand. Simply put, the lab boom is crowding out critically needed housing construction. The focus on building labs is driving up land prices and diverting resources. According to the trade association MassBio, at least 40,000 net new jobs will be created from life-science projects currently under development. Where will these people live? According to Marc Draisen, director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, his organization calculated in 2015 that Eastern Massachusetts needs more that 400,000 new housing units by 2050 to keep up with growth. “We believe private developers have a responsibility to contribute to housing for the workers they’re going to employ,” he told the Boston Globe. Boston has a linkage program that requires commercial developers to contribute to a housing fund as a condition for zoning approval.

    Watertown has approved big development projects without a linkage requirement. It finally has moved on linkage. The linkage proposal is being shepherded through the Legislature by representatives Lawn and Owens and by Senator Brownsburger. In the meantime, it’s time to call a halt to biolabs until lab developers or any other developers meet the linkage requirement to pair their projects with affordable housing. Face it. The growth in the life-sciences sector is drastically altering the economic and physical landscape in Watertown and elsewhere. Reasonable people can acknowledge that the industry is working to improve our health in its shiny new labs with the missile silos on their roofs, but what is the industry doing to contribute to a healthy, livable, and prosperous Watertown? What will it take to make Watertown affordable for workers who don’t have a college degree, accessible to families with kids and elders on fixed incomes, or allow extended-family members to rent or buy apartments within a few blocks of one another. It seems Watertown has no policy vision for how to make the city affordable for all, and absolutely no plan to get there. What we know for sure is that when builders construct units in a given place, it reduces rents and sale prices in nearby blocks, as well as in nearby neighborhoods; conversely, restricting construction drives prices up, and promotes tear-downs and McMansion building.

    Change is a healthy thing. Studies confirm that people want to live in or near places that are mixed-use. The idea of the office park, the separate work area, and then places that are exclusively residential are an outmoded model. Surely Watertown can do better.

  9. Dear Watertown Councilors,
    Please prioritize residential enjoyment of the river with all proposals – the river offers and escape from work and industry but not if imposing office buildings crowd out vegetation and wildlife. Also, please ensure access and passage to/from the river.
    Please also consider traffic – Pleasant St is pretty busy as it is, how much more can it tolerate?
    Please also consider the type of Life Sciences – I am opposed to any form of dangerous science in Watertown.

  10. If we continue to keep this insane development -of course we will – let’s open up some new roads and out of the box thinking for alternate traffic patterns.
    We need more diversity in these large project.

  11. Quick question how many cars per day run the stop signs at Acton and Rosedale? A lot. I have almost been hit there too many times to count ….

    But hey this is great news maybe another weed shop or
    Liquor store will occupy the space? I remember when the town council voted down a Burger King at the old Sullivan Tire place …… but this monstrosity will be allowed???

  12. I have and continue to believe that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Enough is enough with developers telling the residents that they know what’s best for us. Enough is enough with developers incorporating a few “bones” to residents into their project proposals to infer they care about and their projects will enhance our quality of life, our health, our environment, our ability to live in the town our families grew up in. Enough is enough with developers telling residents that they’ll do everything they can to meet Watertown’s traffic management goals while their proposed projects add hundreds and hundreds of parking spaces and tens of loading docks to accommodate the anticipated increase in customers, clients, services and employees to the existing traffic and congestions nightmares that we now live everyday. Density and congestion will undoubtedly increase which will ensure the negatives that come along with them will increase. A halt is needed until more control and understanding of this overwhelming situation is gained. It’s time (actually I fear it is too late) for Watertown elected officials and responsible boards to take whatever measures are needed to restructure Watertown’s laws and regulations to reduce this onslaught of development to where it can be better managed and monitored and reflect the needs and expectations of residents.

  13. Agree with all of the above comments. Too big for the local neighborhood, doesn’t work in regards to reducing traffic or quality of life for immediate residents.

    • I agree with so many of the comments here about this and other developments. As an East Ender, I am in full support of my neighbors in the West. We know your concerns.

      But if anything is to change, those who are unhappy about the process by which development is handled in Watertown must stand up and make their voices clearly heard. We did it with regard to THE SIGN, and we must do it again.

      If there is not huge public outcry that is impossible to ignore, then your opinions WILL be ignored as they have been for a decade or more. If we fail to speak up resolutely there will be many more monstrosities.

  14. Pages 36-38 of the 2023 Watertown Comprehensive Plan:

    Action Plan
    3. Cultivate a mix of diverse businesses that strengthens our community by providing jobs, services, and support for city infrastructure.

    Issues and Opportunities
    Solid fundamentals are important to weather economic ups and downs. In 2022, the economy is continuing to adapt to changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic while responding to rising interest rates and inflation. Life science companies are reconsidering the amount of space they need, providing more opportunities for mid-size companies to grow but potentially slowing the absorption of new space. Ongoing changes in the retail industry are impacting local businesses that form the foundation of commercial areas. Responsiveness and flexibility at the local level is important to help businesses and property owners as they explore ways to remain stable and even grow despite challenges.
    Is the City even reading their own plan?? That seems to be the problem. They spend all of this time and A LOT of money in consultant fees as well as citizen time to make this plan, only to ignore it…

  15. Enough is enough of huge biolabs in Watertown. I have to now look at the monstrosity at 6-66 Galen St looming over our houses, blocking the horizon, with its creepy windowless top floor and 24/7 filters and scrubbers on top (and its new proposed animal research lab next door). AND if anyone reads the Watertown paper lately, an article stating that Watertown has NOT BEEN DOING INSPECTIONS to these labs is frightening! We must have a moratorium on building these labs with animal research facilities all over town, especially before Watertown approves the first biolevel 3 lab.

    • The monstrosity at the mouth of Galen Street overshadows our most prized natural asset–the Charles River–and the rest of its surroundings to the point of being shocking. It is an inoperable tumor on the physical landscape of our town that will plague future generations of Watertown citizens.

      To think that there will be many more such inappropriate buildings that are out of scale with our landscape and built environment is a sobering thought and a call to action. It is even more appalling to understand that the values and concerns of the majority of us have little sway over the development of our town. Something is profoundly wrong.

  16. To me, the new biotech buildings look shiny, new and modern. They’re much more attractive than many existing buildings in Watertown (some residents don’t seem to maintain their houses very well, at least from the outside). The building at 666 Galen St. isn’t finished yet, but I think it fits in well with the river and bus yard, and it’s the same height as other buildings in the immediate area. I think the city is listening to residents, and many of us do NOT agree with the sentiments expressed in these Comments!

    P.S. No need to panic about inspections. Just think a minute… Inspecting a biotech lab on one day per year will do very little, if anything, to prevent a situation which exposes the community to risk…. just as inspecting a restaurant on Wed. doesn’t mean they’ll be using sanitary practices on Saturday.

    • I think the size of this building is what is being debated. This building would be taller than the Rock Gym and would be the tallest building along Acton street. A very important fact is that this building would sit across the street from a neighborhood of single and 2-family residences. The scope of this building is out of character and out of line with the neighborhood. If they were to propose something more reasonable…2 floors w/ small mechanical floor (see the conversion project at 580 pleasant str), then this might be more palpable. Another important consideration is there will certainly be a few more properties in this area that will probably be up for sale soon and we assume those too would be converted to large biotech space which would overcrowd and swamp out this neighborhood. One must remember that there are still 2 Bio/Lab buildings to be built (approved) and one can see more properties along Pleasant str also going the route for sale and development.

      And to your comment about the town not listening, I think the residents 100% don’t feel supported by the city/town planners and thats why there are many people speaking up (though it falls on deaf ears). With all the new construction, office space conversion, residents are being hemmed in by large and larger developments. If you attended last weeks Comprehensive plan open forum there was pretty a unanimous message to cap these developments and this was definately down played by our town planners (they said it was a difference in opinion). Albeit by the time this “Comprehensive Plan” is put in place, there will be nothing left for it to govern.

      • Corey,
        And if you recall, this “open forum” occurred only because Elodia Thomas insisted on it. Thank you, Elodia! We aired more issues and how they fit together in that 15 or 20 minutes than have been actually talked about in a forum with the City in I don’t remember when.

        When this new comprehensive planning process began, residents who participated in the 2015 one began with sharing their doubts that it meant anything, since the plan was clearly ignored as City decisions were made. They wondered out loud if this was all a waste of their time. There were vague reassurances at that time that it wasn’t.

        What we’ve experienced since then is a series of meetings where the consultants talk, we listen, we put hash marks on poster boards and make limited comments on sticky notes, communicating solely with the consultants. Quite a controlled process.

        Those of you who attended the Comprehensive Plan meeting before this last one were shocked to see at least 3 young men surround Clyde Younger, preventing him from speaking. He had spoken to Gideon earlier in the day about the point he wanted to make. Nothing was said then. But, I believe, that because Clyde is the man he is, and people listen to him, his point of view on the future fiscal viability of bio labs was unwanted, and thus squelched, and in quite an Orwellian manner, I might add.

        One last thing…I just noticed that Boylston Properties (the ones who brought us Arsenal Yards), just bought the Atrius Health property next door on Arsenal Street last August. What’s next? Are we going to have to leave town to go to our doctors?

  17. I don’t know if the counselors read these comments but they do read email. Recommendation: Please email your counselors for officially giving them your opinions. msideris@watertown-ma.govm,,,,,, and also city ass mgr:
    Steven T. Magoon and City Mgr: George Proakis.
    You can find all this info:
    Once you have emailed them it is public record.

  18. Watertown residents! March 20 is an important meeting!
    It’s very clear that many residents are alarmed at the rapid fire building of lab after lab in our town, many in residential neighborhoods and relatively residential areas where light industry was permitted. Those existing businesses are mostly one and two story buildings. Most of the proposed. – and sadly, already in progress – buildings are 3 to 7 stories, towering over our only green refuge by the river and bike path and casting long shadows over neighborhoods. In addition to being inappropriately sized and unsightly, as well as creating noise, traffic, dirt and dust, there are some issues that must be addressed well before building a lab. I’ve been speaking with a friend who has written several books about how to plan to prevent disasters, and how to recover from disasters, such as 9/11 the World Trade Center,, Katrina, pandemics, cyber attacks, etc. What I took from these conversations are the following:

    The city should require any such lab do the following:

    1. Have a disaster plan – what do they do if there is a material “leak,” flood, power outage, fire, mass shooter inside, etc. Are first responders trained to respond appropriately to these?

    2. (1) must be proven through a bi-annual or annual emergency exercise integrated with the community, hospitals, first responders, etc.

    3. (1) and (2) must include a local and regional impact assessment by an INDEPENDENT ORGANIZATION.

    The city should require these and an Environmental Impact Statement from existing and all future labs. All of these requirements shoukd be at the cost of the lab businesses, NOT at the city’s expense.

    Additionally, at several meetings I’ve heard (mostly older) abutters say that they were unaware of what was happening – that nobody had informed them, and that they have no cell phone and no computer. The assumption that everybody has these technological tools is faulty. And because they have no way to be informed of what’s happening, they also may not be able to receive emergency messages when there is an accident. No cell phones means any lab breach alert will require audible alarms in the area as well as signage and radio/TV announcements. The city may need software that predicts weather patterns so that viral, chemical, or other noxious plumes from the leak site can guide alerts. I would like to see proof that the city has done its due diligence. Can we see a plan that shows our fire fighters have the training and tools that they will need? That the police force knows who may need to be evacuated if there is such a need? Is all of this already in place?

  19. I agree with everything written by Anne Civetta. She is viewing the rampant lab construction in Watertown from a holistic perspective.

    In addition, it is not sufficient to notify only abutters about new construction of buildings as it impacts entire neighborhoods. Residents within a quarter mile radius should be notified and writing well in advance of the planning process. I don’t know the exact zoning laws, but you don’t have to be to a city planner to understand that buildings above a certain height will negatively impact residents: light will be blocked, long shadows will be cast across neighborhoods, wind tunnels created, views will be blocked. In addition, traffic will be affected.

    I want Watertown to move with ime with the times, but in a way that does not negatively impact the character of the town, take away our green space along the river , or lessen the quality of life in a town we love.

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