New Balance details plans for Brighton

By Jenn Abelson
Globe Staff / February 25, 2010

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Brighton sneaker maker New Balance last night unveiled a plan for a $250 million mixed-use development that would feature a sports complex, hotel, park, movie theater, office buildings, and community space, along with a commuter rail station and access to the Massachusetts Turnpike.

New Balance does not own any of the 15 acres on which the project is planned, but said it has been in talks for months with various property owners, as well as with state and city officials. About half of the acreage, however, is already under agreement for Lowe’s to build a home improvement store. The New Balance development plan - presented last night at a neighborhood meeting - does not include Lowe’s.

“This project has a number of positive benefits to the community as a whole. It would be a true transit-supported mixed-use development,’’ said Ty Hanlan, vice president of NB Guest Street Planning and Development. “A big-box retail store is a big-box retail store. If that goes there, none of these other parcels could be developed into anything other than what they are now.’’

Hanlan said the first phase of the project would cost roughly $100 million and include a new building for New Balance with about 175,000 square feet, a sports complex with room for ice hockey, lacrosse, and soccer, along with the infrastructure needed for the development. Hanlan said the first phase could move forward without the commuter rail station at Everett Street, but the company would need assurances it would be constructed in the future.

David Wanger, president of Marathon Realty Corp. of Newton, which owns the land Lowe’s is planning to build on, said he has tried to talk with New Balance about working together with Lowe’s for a mixed-use project, but New Balance has not expressed interest in doing so.

“It’s inappropriate for New Balance to be presenting a proposal of what they would like to do on property owned by my company unless it’s a collaborative effort,’’ Wanger said. “We’re not going to simply abandon our plans because New Balance has new ones.’’

Lowe’s is expected to file its proposal - with changes to address concerns after the last plan stalled - in coming weeks.

Maureen Rich, a Lowe’s spokeswoman, declined to comment on the New Balance project but said Lowe’s is looking forward to opening its first Boston shop. “This project has taken a great deal of time and effort,’’ Rich said. “We’ve worked closely with local officials and residents.’’

Susan Elsbree, a spokeswoman for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, said: “We think that ideas coming out of the community and this New Balance plan can coexist with Lowe’s. Clearly, there is room for additional growth in the area.’’

Jenn Abelson can be reached at