With the number of controversial large development projects being proposed in town, many people are curious about where the developments are and how decisions are being made. The first step in researching is with land ownership records, which are public data. While I’m working on a larger story about zoning and development, here are some notes on how I’m researching land ownership in Arlington.

Guide To Researching Land Ownership

While some of the GIS or property lookup sites may seem intimidating or work differently than other mapping tools, if you spend just a little time with them they’re very powerful. Remember, property ownership records are all public!

If you’re curious about a specific property in Arlington, here’s how to learn more:

  • Figure out the property address (you can also search by owners, but we’ll do address here).
  • Open your browser to the Arlington GIS Interactive Map - https://www.mapsonline.net/arlingtonma/index.html
  • On the left side of the map, click on Find to open the left-hand panel.
  • Next to Address: edit box start typing just the name of the street.
    • A dropdown of available streets in Arlington will appear - click on the appropriate dropdown entry, like “MASS AVE”.
  • Then enter the street number of the address in the # field - this will also bring up a drop-down - finish typing the number or select the correct number from the drop-down.
  • Ta-da! The Detail Information for the Parcel at that address will be displayed below, with basic ownership and facts about the property.
    • Click on the Property Card & Services “Click To View” to see the detailed building and ownership information for this property - typically includes the last several sales and amounts, past year’s property taxes, along with number of rooms, bathrooms, a sketch of any buildings, photo, and other information.
    • For example, 882 Mass Ave - the building where Toraya was and is now proposed as a new development - is parcel 126-1-6.
  • To share a property URL/link with someone, find the Parcel ID for a property by searching as above. Remember, commercial buildings, buildings with multiple street addresses, or apartment buildings may be multiple parcels.
  • Copy the Parcel ID of the property you want to share - typically three numbers, separated by - dash or minus signs. Copy the ID exactly as shown.
  • Create your URL by putting the Parcel ID after this string: https://www.mapsonline.net/arlingtonma/?ts_cama_id=
  • That is, to send someone a link to the record for 882 Mass Ave, send them this link: https://www.mapsonline.net/arlingtonma/?ts_cama_id=126-1-6
  • When they open the link, they will see the property Detail Information, and can click on the Zoom To arrow to see the property on the map in context.

Try looking up 1211 Mass Ave (Parcel 58-11-1) yourself, to see who owns the Hotel Lexington proposed development.

Land Ownership Resources

A list of websites I’ve found valuable while looking into property deeds and records.