New Balance broke ground yesterday on its new world headquarters in Brighton, part of a 14-acre development that city and company officials say could be the start of significant redevelopment in the area.
The project, called New Brighton Landing, includes a hotel, retail space, office buildings and what New Balance describes as professional-caliber sports facilities. The New Balance facility will get started first, to be followed by the other components.
The "transformative" project on Guest Street is a "unique, one of a kind, mixed-used entity," New Balance chairman Jim Davis said.
"It's a game-changer. It's a gateway through Brighton-Allston. This is going to make a big difference in this community," Mayor Thomas M. Menino said.
New Balance, which has been in Brighton for years, will open up some of the facility, including green space, to the public.
"We're really entrenched in the neighborhood," said Matthew LeBretton, a New Balance spokesman. "These are our neighbors and friends."
City Councilor Mark Ciommo said the project will be a "key for economic development" in the area.
The new offices will cater to health care companies, which Ciommo said could establish the area as a health and wellness district that will complement the waterfront's Innovation District.
One of the infrastructure improvements hailed by locals is a new commuter rail stop on the Worcester line that New Balance agreed to pay for to help with traffic concerns.
Anabela Gomes of the Brighton Allston Improvement Association said traffic and parking were initially a large concern, but those doubts have been erased, she said, largely because of the commuter rail stop.
"That was a really major concern," she said.
The new stop could easily lead the way for future development in the area, Gomes and others said.
"The notion of the T stop, I think that makes a huge difference" for the community and development, said Peter Meade, director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. "There's a great deal of activity right now in Allston-Brighton," including an 80-unit residential building not far away on Braintree Street.
"With the commuter rail on top of it, it makes a great destination," Ciommo said.
Still, Gomes said future development needs to be well-planned and include community input.
"It has to be thought out properly," she said.
Courtesy of Jordan Graham and Richard Weir
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