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WEYMOUTH, MA-Another key step toward a nearly $1-billion redevelopment of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station has been taken with the transfer of 549 acres from the US Department of Defense South Shore Tri-Town Development Corp. It is part of a no-cost acquisition of the surplus property by this community as well as two neighbors, Abington and Rockland.

The recent transfer includes a 324-acre site earmarked for commercial development while a 225-acre parcel will be set aside for park land. Two more transfers involving the remaining 900 acres are scheduled to take place later this year.

Lennar Partners, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Irvine, CA-based Lennar Property Corp. that has been chosen as master developer, also needs to negotiate a developer disposition agreement and covenant deferral request to speed the transfer of contaminated sites that would be remediated.

“Once we do that, we’re hoping to start some construction on Phase I,” South Shore Tri-Town board chairman John W. Rogers tells GlobeSt.com. “We’re really pushing ourselves to get this thing done sooner rather than later.”

The first buildings will include 300 units of housing for senior citizens plus 300,000 sf of commercial space, Rogers says. Plans once called for two million sf of retail space, but market conditions have forced that segment to be scaled back, he notes.

A town center with a multi-modal transportation center is part of the development plan for the former naval air station. It will take at least a decade for the entire project to be built out. The base’s closure dealt an economic blow to the surrounding area, but redevelopment is expected to create 7,500 office, retail and light manufacturing jobs.

“All of the people who lived on the base shopped in the local stores,” Rogers says.

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