WINCHESTER - When the Town of Winchester sent out its RFQ (Request for Qualifications) for the Waterfield Lot next to the Winchester Center Commuter Rail Station, it received more than it may have expected: nine proposals. Out of those, eight were qualified.

The town hopes to develop that land into affordable and/or mixed-use housing. Therefore, some of the qualities the town seeks in a development partner include experience with mix-used housing, financial ability to complete the project, local experience, i.e. has the developer worked in Winchester before, local partnerships, i.e. does the developer have any local connections, design and planning, and environmental sustainability.

The nine developers who responded were: Civico/Traggorth Companies, Diamond Finacori, Just-A-Start, Manzo, MPZ Development/Catstone Communities, NOAH, and WinnDevelopment. Mary McKenna, former Planning Board member, didn’t submit a full response to the RFQ but did submit a letter offering some ideas.

Town Manager Lisa Wong said the RFP (Request for Proposals) process should begin in March. The RFP respondents should give the town their proposed uses and plans. One possible hiccup concerns the MBTAs construction work at the Winchester Center train station. Wong said the timeline has been pushed back because the transit authority is looking for a permanent easement on the Waterfield Lot.

Wong is hopeful everything will be in place for Fall Town Meeting to vote on a developer. She listed the objectives as affordability, types, mixed-use, parking design, regulatory approach, disposition terms, and purchase price.

The board appreciated the Town Manager’s work with Jacqueline Welch saying, “I’m grateful for the transparent process,” which she added should continue to move smoothly.

Acting chair Michael Bettencourt noted all the “stops and starts,” but said he was “excited for the next steps.”

Chair Mariano Goluboff, unable to attend the meeting in person, said via teleconference how the Waterfield Lot is “a key property to the town center. This has been a deliberate process,” he added, ”and it should move forward.”

Amy Shapiro, also unable to attend in person, said via teleconference how “it’s encouraging to see the number of qualified developments.”

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