You're in the lot at Stop & Shop putting groceries in your car. You look up and think: 'Hey, Symmes is really coming along.'
According to those most closely involved with the largest construction development in Arlington history, that's true.
The project on the 18-arce site of the former Symmes Hospital was launched in 2001 but delayed earlier on by neighborhood unrest and then a lengthy recession, during which a developer went bust. It's back on track.
Jake Upton, a partner with Upton + Partners of Dedham, says the first units expect to be completed next summer.
"While there is much work to do, it is exciting to see this special project begin to take shape," he said following a 90-minute tour of the site.
He said that Arlington 360 LLC "has been working diligently with our development partners, respective general contractors and the Arlington community to coordinate the timely construction of 176 residential units, 90 units of assisted living and two public parks." Upton's company is working with the Jefferson Apartment Group of Virginia.
The Shelter Group of Baltimore, which is building an assisted-living facility on the lower part of the site, next to the woods preserved as open space, closed on its part of the project in October and is readying the site for construction.
Activity at the site this month is changing the contour of Arlington's horizon, the site's immediate neighborhood as well as memories of what was for nearly a century a community hospital.
"Bottom line -- nobody wants a lot of housing and nobody wants construction in their backyard," wrote Michele Barry in an email Dec. 6. She represents neighbors through the Symmes Neighborhood Advisory Committee (SNAC). "But since we have to have both, we are glad to have Jake and now Rick on the project."
She was referring to Upton and Rick Gallagher, who is the town's representative for the project.
Gallagher, a longtime town resident, aims to see that contractors follow the plans that protects the neighborhood (see sidebar titled "Gallagher goal to protect neighbors includes early morning visits").
On a 90-minute tour on Dec. 5 Upton showed the progress underway with the 164 apartments and 12 townhouses.
"The project is pretty much on schedule," Upton said. Earlier, after construction began last April, delays occurred because of scheduling utility.
Upton hopes that is behind him, and he expected NStar to connect electricals at a point near Summer and Grove before Christmas.
The main aim on Dec. 5 was to ready the project for the depth of winter.
Donning white hard hats with NEI logos and yellow vests striped in Orange, we went out into the uncommonly mild day. The scene was organized chaos: As many as 350 workers scrambled to address a series of issue.