National Development Invests in Newmarket, Area Ready for Facelift

By Seth Daniel

A major developer in the South End has moved across Melnea Cass to invest in a large site in the Newmarket area, and the Newmarket Business Association said it hopes to transform the industrial area abutting the South End very soon.

Sue Sullivan of the Newmarket Business Association told the South End Forum Opiate Working Group in a meeting this month that National Development – the developers of Ink Block – have purchased a building in the district and have big plans to clean it up and enliven it. She said that’s a trend that the entire district looks to follow suit with.

The Standard Electric building – a three-acre site on Massachusetts Avenue – has sold to National Development in the last few months.

“That building is going to look incredibly different than it does today,” she said, noting that initial ideas include keeping industrial tenants, but enlivening the street with some retail offerings.

Ted Tye of National Development said they are vey excited about the potential of Newmarket.

“We are immediately working on cleaning up the building and site while we plan additional capital improvements to upgrade the property and re-tenant the buildings with a stable tenant base,” he said. “There are no specific plans at this point. We love the potential of this area and have considerable tenant interest in the space.”

That particular move is one of many that are in the works, or in the planning stages, for the South End’s long-forgotten neighbor to the east. The Newmarket area in recent years has become tethered to the South End due to the opiate and homelessness crisis that has played out in both areas simultaneously. That bond between the two grew even stronger when South End Forum Moderator Steve Fox initiated the new Working Group a year ago.

Now, regular meetings to discuss the opiate issue in the South End have readily included what is happening in the Newmarket area – where many of the methadone clinics, homeless shelters and treatment centers are located – services that routinely spill over to South End neighborhoods in a disastrous way.

All that said, enlivening and cleaning up and adding curb appeal to the industrial Newmarket area has become a key early recommendation of the Working Group in order to combat much of the problems that exist.

“I don’t call it underutilized, but we could change our look,” she said, noting that many of the buildings people assume are empty house thriving businesses with hundreds of jobs. “It doesn’t’ have to look blighted. That’s just the way it has gone. That has to change.”

Fox said he agrees that giving Newmarket some curb appeal and walkability could help change how the daily problems in the South End play out. A blighted area with difficult design invites many of the problems, he said.

“I’m a great believer in design as a solution,” he said. “If you walk from Worcester Square to 1010 Mass. Ave, it’s pretty stark. It’s pretty hardcore industrial. If you brighten things up and improve them at the ground level with opportunities for people to buy things and use the sidewalk, I think that would go a long way to helping the situation.”

Other things in the works for Newmarket, according to Sullivan, are:

  • The Universal Church owned by City Realty on Southampton Street has apparently scrapped its plans for housing there and will come back soon with a multi-story commercial building.
  • A large site on Clifford Park across from 1010 Mass. Ave. has a wish list project of a six-story commercial building, a 600-car parking garage, a new Fire Department headquarters and 30,000 sq. ft. of maker space. Were that to happen, that would open up a new use for the large Fire Department Headquarters now on Mass Avenue and Southampton Street.
  • Slade Gordon fish sold its building to Brookline Ice & Coal, which is doing some manufacturing there and continuing to lease back to Slade.
  • The physical therapy storefront in the Crosstown Center is apparently leaving and a new CrossFit gym that is expected to bring heavier foot traffic will replace it.

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