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WEYMOUTH, MA-A new plan is in the works for the former Naval Air Station here that involves developing the parcel into its own village with senior housing and office and retail space. Previous plans called for a massive mall complex and office park.

This 1,450-acre piece of land–one of the largest pieces of undeveloped land in the Greater Boston area–is 12 miles south of the city and crosses the borders of Weymouth, Rockland and Abington. Virginia-based Mills Corp. was planning to develop a mega-mall complex here but fierce local opposition to the proposal eventually drove the company away.

The new plan–which would be done in stages over a 10-year period–involves 700 units of senior housing, 3.5 million sf of office and retail space, recreation facilities, hotels, a conference center and an 18-hole golf course. Hundreds of acres will be left as open space. “This concept has been talked about over the past year, since the mall idea left town,” Stanley Hurwitz spokesperson for the South Shore Tri Town Development Corp. tells GlobeSt.com. Tri Town is the agency in charge of the station’s redevelopment.

Hurwitz points out that, as opposed to the mall, which he says “was going to be plunked down quickly and create a traffic nightmare,” this project will progress when the infrastructure is ready. “This plan is a catalyst for all these other things to happen in the area,” he says. The state is already preparing to begin construction on Route 18 by adding an extra lane in each direction. “They are going to work on five of the worst intersections on Route 18,” notes Hurwitz.

According to Hurwitz, the redevelopment of the base is going to be run like its own municipality, at least for the next 10 years while it undergoes various stages of development. Tri Town is authorized to exist for the next 18 years and after it is phased out. A revenue stream will flow to each of the three communities encompassing the former base. “This is an unusual set-up,” notes Hurwitz. “In perpetuity, these towns will benefit from property taxes with no investment needed. When the base closed, whatever monies it was generating stopped so the re-use plan required an economic benefit.”

Reportedly, the project has attracted over two dozen developers, including Chicago-based Nicholas Pritzker, who is also involved in a major development on the waterfront in South Boston. Hurwitz confirms that Tri Town executive director Kenneth Goff met with a representative from Pritzker but emphasizes that “no one has an inside track. It is premature to say what will happen.”

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