UMass director of planning Dennis Swinford paid a courtesy call to the Amherst Planning Board on February 1st to talk about their "Master Plan" looking forward to the next fifty years, and at the end of the presentation he was queried about the Gateway Project.
You can tell by his reaction he was a tad unprepared for the question, perhaps why he blurted out the unvarnished truth.
Dennis Swinford, UMass planning
Originally the Gateway Corridor Project was a joint development project between UMass, the town and the Amherst Redevelopment Authority. Umass would donate the 2 acre former Frat Row and the ARA would commission a private top shelf developer to build a grand mixed use project providing badly needed housing, parking and commercial business space--all of it on the tax rolls.
Neighbors, fearing a revival of the Animal House Frat Row days, lobbied long and hard, meeting after meeting to abort any part of the plan concerning housing. They brow beat town officials into altering the grand vision to an unrecognizable shell of its former self. UMass withdrew the offer of Frat Row.
On the night Deputy Chancellor Todd Diacon broke the bad news to the ARA he stated reassuringly, UMass had no plans to build on the property "for the next five years."
Chancellor Holub and Town Manager Larry Shaffer signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" at the 9/1/10 community breakfast (in front of 400 witnesses) jump starting the grand Gateway Corridor plan. Shaffer would later run off from his wife and the town to Michigan, Chancellor Holub was run off by the by the rough and tumble Boston pols, and Deputy Chancellor Todd Diacon just found another job with Kent State University.
And Gateway will become townhouse apartments (like North Village Apartments) and a signature building at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, North Pleasant Street, and Butterfield Terrace.
Now neighbors will get the devil they don't know.