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WEYMOUTH, MA-The redevelopment of the 1,450-acre former Naval Air Station took a big leap forward with the approval of the first phase in the plan from the state’s secretary of environmental affairs, Robert Durand.

Durand’s Certificate on the Phase 1 Report states that the report “adequately and properly complies with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act.” The document is a prerequisite to development of the property, which will ultimately take approximately 10 years and cost as much as $1 billion.

According to Ken Goff, executive director of the South Shore Tri-Town Development Corp., the agency created by the state legislature in 1998 to oversee the redevelopment project, once the Navy signs the application for economic development conveyance the 600-acre phase 1 parcel will be transferred to the Development Corp. Goff tells GlobeSt.com that the transfer could happen as early as next month.

“This gives us the ability to develop the northwest quadrant,” he says. The Corporation is focusing on this parcel initially because it is land closet to the base’s entrance and is the least encumbered by the Navy’s facilities. The development of this parcel, which will be on about 300 of the acres that are transferred, calls for up to 300,000 sf of office space as well as 300 senior-housing units.

Goff points out that the state’s upgrading of Route 18 is also crucial to the redevelopment plan moving forward. The state is in the process of expanding the highway. “People have criticized this for being invisible but we are starting to get some visible action in place,” says Goff. “We couldn’t sell land to developers until all these steps happened. Now it’s all coming together.”

The corporation is currently seeking a master developer planner to create a public/private partnership, a decision that Goff terms “the most significant one we will make.” The master developer will market the land, oversee the development and infuse the necessary funds to complete the permitting process. “We are at a very exciting point in the process,” says Goff. “We are entering a more visible role.”

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