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Firm starts 2d housing project tied to transit

Luxury apartments being built adjacent to Newton T station

It's called transit-oriented development -- creating housing near MBTA and commuter rail stations -- and National Development yesterday broke ground in Newton on its second such project in the state.

Arborpoint at Woodland Station, which will have 180 luxury residences, is scheduled to open next summer, adjacent to the MBTA station near Newton-Wellesley Hospital, the next to the last stop on the Riverside branch of the Green Line.

Unfortunately, convenience and efficiency for the new residents means some inconvenience and a longer walk for MBTA patrons who park at Woodland and take the T. The handy, if often crowded, surface parking lot that will give way to apartments has been replaced by a three-level garage a couple of football fields' distance from the Green Line station's platform.

But officials from the MBTA, City of Newton, MassHousing, state Office for Commonwealth Development, and other agencies joined National Development managing partner Ted Tye yesterday to welcome another example of the increasingly popular housing concept, sometimes referred to as smart growth, because it encourages public transit use.

Woodland Station is the latest in a family of Arborpoint apartment complexes built by National Development, including Plantation Ridge in Worcester, which is open, and Seven Springs in Burlington and Station Landing in Medford, which are now leasing and about to open. There is transit component to the development in Medford, but none in Worcester and Burlington.

Yesterday Tye, his development team, and public officials rued the nine years it took to bring the $40 million project at Woodland Station to reality, but said marrying residences to public transit is worth the effort of going through a winding public process.

''The idea was to take those cars and move them down to the beautiful parking garage you see at the end of the site," said Tye. ''That created land to build on."

A two-lane street will extend from Washington Street -- which is also Route 16, and the entrance to the development -- past the front of the new apartment complex and to the T's parking garage, which opened in March.

A spokeswoman for the project, Rachel Reed, said the garage had to be located away from the T platform because it occupied a wider footprint of land than the apartments, and there wasn't room between the tracks and an existing residential complex.

Reed also said the community and Newton officials preferred to have a residential building near busy Washington Street, rather than a hulking parking garage. ''The whole layout will be residential in appearance," she said.

Arborpoint at Woodland Station will consist of 180 apartments and town homes, parking on two above-ground levels for 280 cars, a fitness center, swimming pool, community room, and shared use of one Zip Car. Parking will be hidden from view by the town homes, and there will also be 20 parking spaces on the street for residents.

The architect is Geller DeVellis of Boston. National Development, a 23-year-old company, is one of the state's largest development firms and also does construction, property management, and property acquisition services.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority designated National Development as developer in 1999 after six companies bid on the location and others were selected but later dropped out. The company paid $4.3 million for a 70-year lease on the land.

National Development managed construction of the garage, which was paid for by the MBTA.

Statewide, about 50 transit-oriented development projects are in planning, under construction or completed, according to Anthony Flint, smart growth education director for the Office of Commonwealth Development. That includes the potential for a total of about 17,000 residences.

Commonwealth Development was formerly headed by Douglas Foy who recently resigned. Foy's successor Andrew Gottllieb, a Newton resident, attended yesterday's groundbreaking. ''I didn't notice it took so long," he said.

Thomas C. Palmer Jr. can be reached at tpalmer@globe.com.

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