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NEWTON

Newton has until Dec. 31 to decide on purchasing armory, mayor says

A proposal by Mayor Ruthanne Fuller calls for the city to buy the West Newton Armory for use as affordable housing.
A proposal by Mayor Ruthanne Fuller calls for the city to buy the West Newton Armory for use as affordable housing.John Hilliard for The Boston Globe

Newton has until year’s end to decide whether to purchase the West Newton Armory on Washington Street, a property Mayor Ruthanne Fuller has long sought to turn into affordable housing.

In a Sept. 10 statement, Fuller said Governor Charlie Baker signed special legislation in August that gave the city the option of buying the property for $1 if it is used entirely to create more affordable homes in Newton, Fuller said in the statement.

The city also has the option of using it for municipal purposes, though it would have to pay about $1 million for the property, about one-quarter of its assessed value, Fuller has said.

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According to the special legislation, the city has until Dec. 31 to decide on whether to buy the property and complete the purchase, Fuller said. If the city doesn’t buy the property, the state can sell it on the open market.

In her statement, Fuller pointed to the affordable housing units included in developments approved over the past several months, including mixed-use projects in Newton Upper Falls, Nonantum, and West Newton.

“Notably, though, the Armory offers a rare opportunity to provide an all affordable project in which 100% of the units would be permanently affordable,” Fuller said in the statement. “This would enable low-income individuals, families, veterans or older people to have a home in Newton, a critically important goal for our community.”

More than a year ago, the city began exploring what to do with the vacant former state Army National Guard building. The structure itself is about 30,000 square feet, and is located on about three-quarters of an acre. Fuller has proposed that the city acquire the armory, and lease it to a developer to convert and manage the property.

A nine-member city Joint Advisory Planning Group appointed by Fuller and the City Council is currently evaluating options for the property and identifying a plan for reuse, Fuller said in her Sept. 10 statement.

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In January, the city received a $200,000 state grant to hire consultant Affirmative Investments to study the feasibility of using the armory as housing. A recommendation from the city planning group will be submitted to the City Council’s Real Property Reuse Committee, Fuller said.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.