Major Boston-Area Mixed-Use Project Receives Green Light

Boylston Properties and The Wilder Cos. plan to redevelop and expand the former mall with 350,000 square feet of retail and about 500 residences.
Arsenal Yards in Watertown, Mass., rendering

Arsenal Yards in Watertown, Mass., rendering

Watertown, Mass.—Construction on Arsenal Yards, a mixed-use development to be built at the site of a former Boston-area mall, is set to begin within six to eight months now that the Watertown Planning Board has given its approval to the 1 million-square-foot project.

Boylston Properties and The Wilder Cos. plan to redevelop and expand the former Arsenal Mall with 350,000 square feet of retail and entertainment, about 500 residences and 100,000 square feet of existing office space. The developers, both Boston-based real estate development firms, acquired the Arsenal Mall in 2013 for $70.5 million, according to the Boston Business Journal. Jonathan Bush, CEO of athenahealth, joined the development team the same year after his Watertown-based health care technology firm acquired the Arsenal on the Charles corporate center adjacent to the mall for $168.5 million, the business publication reported.

Arsenal Yards will feature a variety of national and local retail and dining choices, a specialty grocer, cinema with six to eight screens and other entertainment options, and open spaces. Housing will include 428 market-rate residences and 75 affordable apartments. The joint venture team is also investing millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements to the paved areas and intersections and will also upgrade the city-owned Arsenal Park.

Arsenal Yards in Watertown, Mass., rendering

Arsenal Yards in Watertown, Mass., rendering

“This new community in Watertown’s East End will bring vibrancy of the city and an urban energy along with the convenience and green spaces of a suburb,” Bill McQuillan, principal of Boylston Properties, said in a prepared statement. “We’ve worked with Watertown residents and officials to bring a unique constellation of uses with today’s busy families and individuals in mind.”

Andrew LaGrega, principal at The Wilder Cos., called the project a “game changer,” and noted that prospective tenants were reaching out to them because “they see a real opportunity in Watertown, with its proximity to Boston, Cambridge and the suburbs.”

The site of the original Arsenal Yards was established in 1816 by the U.S. Army as an ordinance depot and small arms factory. It was later used for other defense purposes until it was closed in 1968 and converted into a shopping mall in the early 1980s. The developers said historic portions of the original manufacturing complex will be retained “with creative architectural additions, respectful restoration and sustainability as priorities.”

Prellwitz Chlinski Associates Inc. of Cambridge is the architect for the project.

Earlier this year, Boylston Properties secured a $60.6 million construction loan from Cornerstone Real Estate Advisors with the help of HFF to transform a former industrial building into a two-story, 185,595-square-foot speculative office development called LINX near Arsenal Yards.