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SOMERVILLE, MA-Local residents hoping to be able to shop at an IKEA close to home or a larger Home Depot are going to have to wait a while longer–if not forever–for that opportunity. The proposals to develop both stores at Assembly Square are being held up by court cases filed by a local citizen’s activist group, Mystic View Task Force, and a recent attempt to mediate the issues has fallen apart.

The Consensus Building Institute was spearheading a mediation, but in a statement the institute says that “after extended conversations both separately and together with the key stakeholder groups involved in the future of the Assembly Square area (i.e., City of Somerville, Assembly Square Limited Partnership, Mystic View Task Force, Ikea, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) has determined that, at this point of time, mediation would not be productive.”

Bill Shelton, president of Mystic View, tells GlobeSt.com that his group was very disappointed that the mediation didn’t work. He insists that it was the developers who walked away from the table and were not willing to allow the mediation to move forward.

But Natash Perez, a spokesperson for Gravistar, which formed Assembly Square LP with Taurus New England Investment Corp. to build the 173,000-sf Home Depot, tells GlobeSt.com that all parties involved had agreed not to talk to the press. “The fact that Bill Shelton is speaking and breaking the confidentiality agreement is an indication of why the mediation fell apart,” she says.

Peter Merrigan of Taurus was also surprised to learn that Shelton had spoken with the press. He tells GlobeSt.com that “we came to the meeting with very creative new ideas that were different than before in how we might reach a middle ground. [Mystic View] expressed zero flexibility and it was very disappointing. The mediator came to the same conclusion.”

Patrick Field, a senior mediator with the Consensus Building Institute, tells GlobeSt.com that he believes there is general agreement among the parties involved on the goals for Assembly Square but there are substantial differences in how to get there. “They were sufficiently far apart that it would be difficult to mediate,” he says. “It wasn’t going to be possible to mediate this.”

The one thing that all parties involved do agree on is that the fate of the two big-box retail stores now lies in the hands of the courts. Assembly Square LP has an appeal pending on the court’s decision to have Home Depot go through the permitting process again because of Mystic View’s suit contending that the city’s special permit was not adequate. Mystic View is also moving ahead with its suits against the development of the 250,000–sf IKEA stating that the plan violates city and state regulations.

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