After months of meetings, presentations and negotiations behind closed doors, Weymouth is finally finalizing an agreement with Starwood to further the development of Southfield.
Mayor Susan Kay and the attorneys from Burns & Levinson appeared before the Town Council Thursday night to give an update on the closed-door negotiations that have been taking place for the last three months.
As a result, Kay is signing a Letter of Intent to enter into a Definitive Agreement with Starwood Friday.
“In my opinion signing this Letter of Intent is a really big day for Weymouth; it’s a really big day for the Southfield project,” Town Council President Patrick O’Connor said.
Starwood’s Proposed Legislation was introduced back in November, 2013. Since then, O’Connor said the Council has met with Starwood representatives 40 hours and 7 minutes over the course of 16 meetings.
“This is the single most important decision this Town Council has ever made,” O’Connor said.
Once the Letter of Intent is signed, the town and Starwood will finalize the Definitive Agreement, which Attorney Matthew Feher from Burns & Levinson referred to as “a must.”
“That’s why we made the legislation subject to its execution,” Feher said, “It’s the one binding agreement that the town will have with the Master Developer.”
The Agreement will involve water and wastewater obligations residing with Starwood, a “Dedicated Commercial Zone” (DCZ) to be located entirely in Weymouth, $3 million in mitigation fees to be paid to the town over a 5-year period, and more conditions to ensure the town’s protection and solve any concerns.
Matthew Barry, Starwood Vice President, said they are “very happy” to be partnering with Weymouth. “We believe that this can be a generational opportunity for Weymouth and the South Shore,” he said.
Barry added that they are scheduled to meet with the Rockland Board of Selectmen Monday night.
Feher said “for all intensive purposes” the legislation should be filed before July 31, as long as the Agreement is signed prior.
A relieved and excited audience exploded in applause several times Thursday night now that negotiations are coming to a long-awaited close.
Town Councilor Brian McDonald said the project everyone believed would happen can now move forward in a “meaningful” way.
“I would just like to say that the people who have really been relying on this moving forward more than anyone else is the residents who live up in that community who have been dangling in the wind,” McDonald said.
Christian Caswell, a two-year resident of Southfield, said everyone’s “very excited” to see this project get going again.
“I think the residents are mostly just relieved to see progress,” Caswell said, “And they’re happy that they know that the concept they bought into is finally getting a little closer to coming to fruition.”