After more than a decade of negotiations, Senator John Kerry today announced a major development between the United States Navy and the South Shore Tri-Town Development Corporation ("Tri-Town") to purchase the former naval air station in South Weymouth, MA.
This afternoon, the Navy and Tri-Town signed a "term sheet" which will allow Massachusetts to purchase the South Weymouth Naval Air Station ("Southfield") for $25 million. Pending final negotiations, the final deal and the transfer of the property will be completed by November 15.
Tri-Town will use the land to create a new residential community with nearly 3,000 homes and two million square feet of storefronts and offices. The development is expected to be completed in 2017.
"I've been here 26 years and I'm as proud of today's development as I am of any difficult negotiation I've ever been a part of. I've dealt with difficult issues face to face with foreign leaders, but this decade-long negotiation was as important and challenging an effort as any I've gone through and I'm so excited about what it means for Massachusetts. We saw it through to the end. We didn't send out silly press releases or grandstand, we met, we negotiated, and we made something happen. More than some arcane legislation, this is about jobs, end of story. We can see the finish line in Southfield, and after years of making the hard sell on the jobs and economic revitalization, November 15 can't come soon enough," said Sen. Kerry. "This will be huge for Weymouth, Rockland, and Abington, and to all of the South Shore, and it's happening because a lot of folks came together, stayed at the table, and refused to give up or walk away. This could've died dozens of times, but with partners like Bill Delahunt and Bill Keating, we kept it alive. Secretary Mabus has been a champion in this effort. He jokingly calls me his stalker, but there's never been a Navy Secretary who has done more for Massachusetts. God love him. As a former Governor, he knows how critical the Southfield station is to our state. This is the final step before November and I'm looking forward to the final deal so folks can get to work on a plan more than a decade in the making."
Since 1998, Senator Kerry has partnered with South Shore Tri-Town Development Corporation to redevelop Southfield on behalf of the towns of Abington, Rockland and Weymouth. Tri-Town's Reuse Plan for the former naval air station was approved by the Navy in 1999 but rejected in 2001 by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA), citing Clean Air Act non-compliance and urging the project to better reflect smart growth and sustainable development principles. Kerry, along with the late-Senator Kennedy and former Congressman Bill Delahunt, secured additional time from the Navy for the towns to redevelop their plan as well as secured the first 324 acres of SouthField from the navy at no cost to Massachusetts in 2003.
As a former Navy officer and a leading environmental advocate, Kerry ushered the project through land reappraisals and base closing policy changes during the Bush Administration and helped secure EOEA approval of the new Reuse Plan in 2008.
In the face of economic uncertainty and a real estate market crash, the final hurdle was negotiating a fair price for the remaining land from the Navy. Though several phone calls and meetings between Senator Kerry, Congressman Bill Keating, and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, as well as meetings on-site and at the Pentagon, a deal was struck this afternoon at final price of $25 million, finally securing lands for the South Shore that will create jobs, provide economic opportunity, and ensure environmental sustainability for future generations.