Sept. 02--The first new MBTA station in nearly 30 years is set to open today, and it will serve as a crucial catalyst for the new $1.5 billion Assembly Row development in Somerville, officials said.
"The T station opening tomorrow is surely a capstone moment for this project," Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said. "It's a tremendous accomplishment."
The Orange Line station, between Sullivan and Wellington stations, will be the first new T station in 26 years. Previously, the Orange Line went straight through Somerville without stopping.
Curtatone said the $29 million station is how private-public partnerships should be done.
"This project should serve as a model and example of a smart investment of public tax money," he said. "It's certainly exciting, long-awaited, and it's paying off more than imagined."
For the developers, the station will be a final crucial puzzle piece for the 57-acre project that includes retail, residences and office space.
"It's one of the cornerstones of the whole concept to make the neighborhood fully function," said Russ Joyner, general manager for the Assembly Row shops. "It just opens up a tremendous amount of possibilities."
Joyner said foot traffic will pick up thanks to the station, giving the development a huge opportunity to establish Assembly Square as a retail and recreation destination.
"We have to give ourselves a chance to communicate and build on (the station)," Joyner said. "The mass transit component just gives you that much more of a critical mass."
Several marquee stores have already opened, including the Legoland Discovery Center. Legal on the Mystic opens today.
Developer Federal Realty Investment Trust plans a second phase of development.
Somerville will also be on the receiving end of the planned Green Line extension, which will add six stations after Lechmere station in Cambridge.
Curtatone said the new Orange Line station, combined with the planned Green Line extension, will be key for Somerville's future.
"Only 15 percent of Somerville's population was within half a mile of public transit," Curtatone said. "That will transform to 85 percent. That will serve as an economic catalyst."
The new station will be officially unveiled during a ribbon-cutting today.
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