CBI assesses stakeholder concerns about the redevelopment of Assembly Square in Somerville, MA, convenes key stakeholders, and issues a conflict assessment.
Assembly Square, located in east Somerville, Massachusetts, is a 145-acre lot divided into several parcels. It is located within several miles of downtown Boston, and adjacent to local subway and commuter rail lines. Since the closure of a Ford Motors Assembly Plant in Assembly Square, business and community groups have fought over plans to redevelop the site with large retail stores.
The City of Somerville asked CBI to conduct an impartial stakeholder assessment of the issues surrounding the proposed development of Assembly Square. The Assembly Square Limited Partnership (ASLP), IKEA, and the Mystic View Task Force agreed to participate in the assessment and to help fund the effort.
CBI began its stakeholder assessment by conducting 46 confidential interviews. In the interviews, CBI staff asked stakeholders about:
The assessment’s purpose was to provide detailed analysis of the conflict, and to help determine whether a consensus building effort might meet stakeholder interests and have a reasonable chance of succeeding.
CBI’s assessment clarified the stakeholders’ main areas of agreement and disagreement. Even with the history of conflict, CBI’s assessment found that stakeholders generally agreed upon:
In addition, CBI’s assessment found that stakeholders’ main disagreement concerned the best way of meeting short-term financial needs while still remaining consistent with a long-term, 30-year vision.
After completing its assessment, CBI identified six action items for the Assembly Square stakeholders, which included the need to:
After concluding the assessment process, CBI released the final Assembly Square conflict assessment, which is now a public document. Though there appeared to be general agreement on the long-term vision for Assembly Square, stakeholders substantially disagreed about the best way of meeting short-term needs consistently with their long-term vision. CBI determined that mediation would not be a productive way to resolve the conflict at that time.