Along the edge of Rumney Marsh in the late
19th Century, Slade’s Mill was bustling. The tidal-powered factory on the
creek, with its rooms fragrant with the wafting aroma of exotic spices –
paprika from Spain and ginger from the Orient – was where the spice grinding
“It was here, in an old Massachusetts mill
that the most interesting step in the distribution of spices began,” said
educator and historian, Jeff Pearlman. “Inside Slade’s Mill the air was golden
brown from grindings of pure spices.”
During the Bellingham-Cary House Association
Annual Meeting on April 27, Pearlman presented a timeline of Slade’s Tidewater
Mill, explaining the connections between Revere and Chelsea. Pearlman is a
member of the Revere Society for Cultural and Historic Preservation, a
non-profit organization that protects and promotes the history of the Revere
The Town of Chelsea originally consisted of
four farms, the first of which was purchased by Henry Slade, who erected the
first church, bank, and City Hall on the waterfront land. In 1734, Slade began
grinding tobacco and corn in the mill.
“The charter states the following,” began
Pearlman. “’This mill must at all times hold itself in the readiness to grind
corn for any citizen of Chelsea, provided that the corn is raised in Chelsea.’”
In 1837, Slade’s sons, David and Levi,
conceived the idea of grinding spices in the mill, and began importing spices
from around the world. By 1850, D and L Slade Company became the largest
producer of spices in New England.
“The boys ground up a half barrel of
cinnamon, slung the barrel between two poles, and trudged across the marsh to
Boston,” Pearlman explained. “The cinnamon was sold to grocers, and a new
industry was born: the business of spice grinding.”
First, the spices passed through magnetized
steel plates to remove foreign objects, such as nails and wire. Spices were
then pulverized into fine powders beneath grinding rolls. Next, the powder was
lifted into continuous buckets, sifted, and loaded into barrels that were
delivered to packing plants in Boston.
“Spices were not only used to stimulate
jaded appetites; but their sweet, pungent odor made them useful as medicine and
deodorants,” mentioned Pearlman. “Up to this time, spice had been sold to the
housewife whole, and each had a hand-grinder.”
The mill was refurbished in 1918 following a
fire and acquired by Bell Seasonings. In 1932, the mill was converted to
electric power, and operated until July 1, 1976.
Slade’s Mill is now on the National Register
of Historic Places.
The building was renovated in 2004, and
today, Slade’s Mill Apartments contains 18 studio and one bedroom units. A
museum on the ground floor exhibits original machinery, photographs, and a
spice cabinet with glass and metal Slade’s and Bell containers.
“Spices are now a
common household necessity. No longer are they counted as the choicest
possession of the wealthy,” said Pearlman. “Men and women live longer in a
spice-laden atmosphere. Perhaps there is something in the theory that spices
have a beneficial effect on health and appetite of the human race. I wonder
where the saying, ‘Spice of life,’ came from.”
In a move to show that they are committed to
keeping residents in their homes, the Corcoran company and Chelsea Housing
Authority (CHA) have been signing Letters of Assurance with residents to
legally ensure they can return to their unit after it is redeveloped into a new
“We started signing those with residents
about two weeks ago,” said CHA Director Al Ewing. “We wanted everyone to see
that there is a commitment from us.”
Added Sean McReynolds of Corcoran, “It was
important for us the residents see we’re committed to having them return. That
is something that is usually done much further down the line. We wanted to do
it now anyway so people felt confident that commitment is there.”
Melissa Booth of the Innes Residents
Association (IRA) said many residents are relieved by the Letter, and the
Association has been passing it around in English and Spanish to get as many
residents signed as possible.
“They’re very relieved because the suspicion
is the developers would go in and move the families and not let them back in,”
she said. “We’ve been working really hard and trying to reassure everyone. No
one wants to leave the place that they’ve been living so long.”
The document, signed by all parties, is
about three pages long and clearly spells out what the residents will be
entitled to when they return.
“JJC Co. and CHA assure that all Innes
residents who are required to move for the redevelopment project will have the
right to return to a newly constructed unit in the redeveloped Innes
Apartments,” read the letter.
The two exceptions are if a household has
been evicted before returning for serious offense, or if they have a large unit
and state rules require them to go into a smaller unit than is available.
Also, it spells out that they will have the
same units as the market rate residents.
“These newly constructed affordable housing
units will be intermixed with market-rate units,” it read. “All units will be
interchangeable with the same quality in all apartments including finishes and
appliances such as washers and dryers.”
Both said they
hope to have everyone signed as soon as possible as an act of good faith to
residents and the community.
A few weeks ago, the Zoning Board of Appeals narrowly rejected our proposal to convert a vacant lot at 1005 Broadway into 42 new homes, a coffee shop (or similar business), greenspace, an open walking path along Mill Creek, and 42 parking spaces. We were motivated to propose this project because Chelsea residents are being priced out of their own city and there is an overwhelming need for all kinds of affordable housing options. We have chosen to appeal the Zoning Board of Appeals decision because we still believe that this site offers a unique opportunity to meet critical community needs.
In putting our proposal together we relied on Chelsea’s 2017 Comprehensive Housing Analysis and Strategic Plan and the City’s Waterfront Community Vision Plan. We asked for input from the surrounding community and changed our proposal to incorporate it. We are grateful to those who came out to the community meetings and made the proposal better and more responsive to neighborhood needs. Our project was also designed with state waterfront regulations (Chapter 91) and the City’s ordinances and zoning regulations in mind.
Our proposal had the support from many community members, the City Manager, and a majority, i.e., three out of five of the members, of the Zoning Board of Appeals. To be approved, our proposal, however, needed four out of five votes. Thank you to those of you who took the time to speak in support and share stories about the impact of rising housing costs in Chelsea.
It is clear from the comments of those who spoke for and against the project that members of our community would like to see more opportunities for residents of Chelsea to own their own homes. We agree. Opponents of the project argued that rejecting our proposal would encourage the development of homeownership opportunities and discourage more development of apartments for rent. However, the rejection of our proposal will not create any homeownership opportunities, let alone affordable ones. The limitations and costs of complying with Chapter 91 make for-sale condominiums not feasible at this site.
To achieve increased homeownership in Chelsea, it is helpful to understand the facts. Over 30% of Chelsea residents are home owners, according to the City’s 2017 Comprehensive Housing Analysis and Strategic Plan. Opponents to our project claim that all of the new construction over the past ten years has been of rental apartments, further skewing the homeownership rate. However, the reality is that Chelsea has also seen a significant growth of condominiums over the past fifteen years, with total condominium units increasing by over 700 units, including the conversion of existing rental apartments to homeownership condos, as is reflected in the 2017 Comprehensive Housing Analysis and Strategic Plan.
And while these condominium conversions (from rental to ownership) created new homeownership opportunities for some, they have decreased the number of apartments available to rent, contributing to higher rental prices for current Chelsea residents. The Housing Analysis and Strategic plan notes that monthly rents increased 38 percent between 2011 and 2016. According to Apartments.com the average one-bedroom rent in Chelsea is $2,114 per month and a family sized 3 bedroom is over $2,800 per month; a 6.6% increase over this time last year.
To help address homeowner displacement in Chelsea and regionally, since 2008, The Neighborhood Developers has created 36 affordable ownership opportunities in Chelsea on Marlborough, Cottage, Maverick, Suffolk, and Broadway, as well as the Box District. Traggorth Companies successfully completed 43 affordable homeownership opportunities in Mission Hill using City of Boston funding. We
would like to build more homeownership in Chelsea, but unlike for affordable rental apartments, there have always been fewer state or federal resources dedicated to affordable homeownership, and that which does get built requires heavy reliance on scarce municipal sources of funding.
However, even if we are able to find sufficient funding, it is important to know that affordable homeownership opportunities are typically for families who earn at least $86,000 per year, or less than 20% of the current Chelsea population. The apartments we proposed are intended to serve families who earn about $60,000 per year or less. Sixty percent of Chelsea’s households have an annual income in this range, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In other words, this project was designed to serve current Chelsea residents who are clearly in critical need of affordable housing. It is for this reason that while we work with City officials to envision how more homeownership can be built and advocate for more resources to do so, we will continue to advocate for this project.
Rafael Mares is the Executive Director of The Neighborhood Developers, Inc. and Dave Traggorth, Principal of Traggorth Companies.
City officials and consultants for the Re-Imagining Broadway effort will take one of their most controversial suggestions to the business community on Broadway today, Aug. 31, prompting a discussion about making Broadway a two-way street.
The six-month planning effort has come up with numerous suggestions about how to improve the corridor, but at the top of those suggestions is the idea about taking Broadway from a one-way to a two-way.
The street has been in its current configuration for more than a generation, and few remember the last time it was moving differently.
However, count City Manager Tom Ambrosino as a convert to the idea.
“I think it will be transformative and make a large difference for the downtown’s flavor,” he said. “I think we can do it. Put me down as a huge proponent. It could dramatically improve the safety of the corridor by slowing down traffic considerably. I think it would look a lot prettier. The drawings have a very interesting iteration of a two-way Broadway.”
Ambrosino said this month that after the meeting with the downtown stakeholders, including the businesses, they would come up with a decision on the matter.
All downtown business owners and employees are invited to attend the meeting, which takes place at 9 a.m. at the Greenhouse Apartments Community Room, 154 Pearl St.
Chelsea officials joined Governor Charlie Baker and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash for the announcement of the plan for the modernization and new construction of new housing units at the corner of Central Avenue and Willow Street. Front row, from left, are City Councillors Matthew Frank, Enio Lopez, Leo Robinson, Damali Vidot, Dan Cortell, Roy Avellaneda, Judith Garcia, and Giovanni Recupero. Back row, from left, are Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes, State Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay, Secretary Jay Ash, Gov. Charlie Baker, State Rep. Roselee Vincent, and City Manager Thomas Ambrosino.
While Jay Ash was city manager and leading the community to national All-America City award recognition, he initiated an idea for a new housing partnership to modernize the Innes Apartments on the corner of Central Avenue and Willow Street.
When he became the secretary of housing and economic development in the Gov. Charlie Baker administration, Ash brought his exciting concept to the Governor.
Yesterday, the two men, the 6-feet-6-inch Governor of the Commonwealth and the 6-feet-7-inch Cabinet Secretary stood side by side and joined Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Chrystal Kornegay in announcing the new partnership to support modernization and new construction of housing units at the corner of Central Avenue and Willow Street, a block from the Jordan Boys and Girls Club.
The area, known warmly here as the “Central Avenue Projects” – where Chelsea kids like Elliot Katzman and Richard Band lived before going on to college and becoming successful in their careers – will in the next few years welcome a brand new development consisting of 320 new units of housing, 96 of which will serve a low-income demographic. Joseph Corcoran of Joseph J. Corcoran Company in Boston will lead the development team.
“This is actually a brainchild of Secretary Ash’s,” Korengay told the assemblage of city officials and other guests. “One of the first things he said was that he was trying to do this for years in Chelsea. So this is his baby.”
Baker, who enjoyed a warm reception from Chelsea officials, credited Ash for his vision of the project.
“One of the reasons it was important to us to find people who work in our administration who could bring feet-on-the-ground, local community knowledge to their jobs and responsibilities associated with state government is because they’re [local government and state government] not far apart,” said Baker.
Baker said he wanted people in his administration who could “build on some of the thoughts and ideas they had when they served in local government,” such as Ash who transformed the city and guided its resurgence during his universally hailed 17-year tenure as city manager.
According to Baker, the state’s goal with the new development in Chelsea is “to try to take advantage of both creative opportunities on the development side and an interest in our part in continuing to develop housing and work with Housing Authorities to help them renovate, upgrade, and replace some of their existing housing.”
Baker introduced Ash as “the guy who came up with this idea.”
“I may have had the idea but the idea wouldn’t be possible without the great leadership we have with the Governor, who takes great ideas and makes them happen,” said Ash.
The Clark University scholar-athlete said he was pleased to be working again on a local project with the Chelsea City Council and his successor, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino.
Ash said the new project is another positive step for the Chelsea Housing Authority. “We’re in a place now where the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is pleased to stand in front of everybody that wants to listen and say, ‘we have faith and confidence in what’s happening in the Chelsea Housing Authority.’’’ “We’re so pleased with the leadership that [CHA Executive Director] Al Ewing continues to provide and the board continues to offer.”
State Reps. Roselee Vincent and Dan Ryan thanked the team of Baker, Ash, and Kornegay for the state’s continued commitment to providing housing opportunities for gateway cities such as Chelsea.
Ambrosino told the assemblage that Chelsea “is really very excited” about the potential development.
“Talking with Al Ewing, we both feel that this could be a signature model for public/private partnerships between Housing Authorities and the private sector,” said Ambrosino. “This is going to bring 224 market-rate units which will not only substantially enhance this area but help to alleviate the housing crunch in this region.”
Corcoran said his company will be partnering with SunCal of Irvine, California in the development of the housing units. Corcoran said the current Innes Apartments will be torn down and an entirely new development will rise on the site.
“All the current residents have a right to come back to it,” said Corcoran, adding that there is a planning grant to study the plan’s logistics with the Chelsea Housing Authority.
“I expect in a month we’ll have a rough timetable of what we have to do to think it through and communicate with the residents,” said Corcoran. “We will communicate a lot with the residents and then out to the greater community. A good goal would be to start construction in 18 months.”
Coming from a place of desperation has been a great piece of hope in the community known as the Chelsea Hunger Network, a group that has been guided tirelessly by Ron Fishman.
Fishman works for MGH part-time in the community coalition, and works part-time also at Trinity Property Management managing Chelsea Square Apartments on Broadway. In managing both duties, about 10 years ago Fishman got involved in the Hunger Network, which had probably started five years before at the behest of Project Bread.
Since that time, the Hunger Network has grown to include an annual Empty Bowls fundraising event, and support of the St. Luke’s Food Panty, the MGH Food Pantry, the Salvation Army Food Pantry and the St. Luke’s Soup Kitchen.
“My involvement as the coordinator of the Chelsea Hunger Network is because of Trinity,” said Fishman, who lives in Lynn. “Trinity is a property management company that manages primarily subsidized or low-income buildings. The company is concerned about the quality of life of residents and it’s important to enhance their lives. Trinity gave me the leeway to do this, which is part of their mission. I feel I’m very lucky to do that and have an organization to support it. Otherwise, I don’t know if I could do it and I don’t know where the Hunger Network would be.”
The more pertinent question, though, is where the needy would be without the energized support of Fishman and several other organizations and volunteers.
“Without having numbers in front of me, I could say every year the numbers of people coming through and the poundage given out is about 20 percent more year over year. That’s a conservative number. It’s unbelievable the food insecurity problem here.”
The Hunger Network really ratcheted up in 2008 when the economy tanked and following that when things remained tough. Many families were obviously struggling to find food and so many needed help.
In the wake of that, some five years ago, the Network decided it needed to have a fundraising effort to support the food pantries and soup kitchens that were being inundated.
This year, just a few weeks ago, the 5th Annual Empty Bowls celebration took place at Chelsea High School. Fishman said it was a great success, but the other part of the fundraiser, the bowl painting events scattered throughout January, February and March, has grown even more popular.
“This year we had as many people there at Empty Bowls as we did the year before,” he said. “Everyone said it was a great success and it is a wonderful event. Yet, we don’t attract more and more people. You need to find a way to get those people who painted bowls to come to the event because they invested so much time in the painting. First, we need to increase participation in the event overall. Second, we need to find out how to get people who painted bowls to come to the event.”
The bowl painting has really taken off, he said, and is an important artistic component to the Network. Those organizations that painted bowls were the Department or Children and Families (DCF), Bantu Group, Zonta Club, MGH, Chelsea High, Chelsea City Council, Chelsea Collaborative, TND and several church groups.
“So many people have painted bowls in the city and it’s really become a community-wide art project that brings everyone together and brings awareness to food insecurity,” he said. “We had to turn people away this year because we had too many bowls.”
With a mind toward growing the Network to help put more of a dent in the problem, Fishman said he will rely on the steady volunteers and coalition organizations that have been beside him the whole time.
“The buy-in from everyone is great,” he said. “The community uniting to get involved is a great thing. Hopefully, in the end they have done something for hunger and it benefits someone locally in need. The whole thing has built up and it’s been amazing to see that happen.”
Ron Fishman of the Chelsea Hunger Network has led the effort for the last 10 years.
Just when you thought that Halloween was going to be over too soon, we are happy to say to the party goers that the are going to gain an extra hour on Sunday morning as we return to standard time. However, this time is also the perfect time not only to catch up on some extra sleep but also change the batteries in your smoke and fire alarms.
Given that many of the apartments in our city are multi-family, proper working smoke alarms are a necessity that can save your life.
So when buying the Halloween candy this year, pick up some batteries for the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
One of the best things one can do as to get our homes ready for winter, is to make sure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms have fresh batteries. A working smoke alarm is your first line of defense in a fire. Time is your enemy in a fire and working smoke alarms give you precious time to use your home escape plan before poisonous gases and heat make escape impossible.”
The following tips are offered:
Replace Aging Smoke & CO Alarms
No appliance lasts forever. “When changing your alarm’s batteries check to see if your alarms need to be replaced. Smoke alarms last about ten years and older carbon monoxide alarms last 5-7.
Ten Year Alarms
There are some new smoke and CO alarms that come with a sealed 10-year lithium battery. The batteries in these alarms never need changing, but the entire alarm needs to be replaced every ten years.
For more information on smoke alarms in Massachusetts contact your local fire prevention office or go to: www.mass.gov/dfs and type Smoke Alarms in the search box.
The fire department responded to a structure fire on Saturday night, March 8, at 5 Admirals Way, the Chelsea Village Apartments, where they found one person suffering from burns and smoke injuries.
That resident was rushed to Mass General in Boston and is apparently recovering.
Just after 11:00 p.m., Chelsea 9-1-1 operators received a signal from 5 Admirals Way indicating the fire alarm system had activated. Engine 1 from the Prattville Station, Engine 3 and Ladder 2 from the Mill Hill Station, Tower Ladder 1 and the Deputy Chief from Central Station were dispatched to the call.
The property at 5 Admirals Way is a 7-story residential building, which is partially protected by an automatic sprinkler system. Because of the large number of residents in this building it is considered a high-risk occupancy, which requires the fire department to dispatch a minimum of three engines and two ladder trucks to all fire alarm activations.
At the time of this incident, Engine 2 was just clearing from a call on Congress Avenue where they had assisted in delivering a baby, and responded to the fire alarm activation call.
Engine 2 was the first company to arrive on scene and reported the alarm activation was for floor 5. The crew climbed the stairs to the 5th floor and reported a heavy smoke condition in the hallway. The two firefighters from Engine 2 had carried 200 feet of hose with them and quickly began to connect the hose to the building standpipe system.
Additional crews arrived on scene and Deputy Chief Robert Zalewski ordered a “working fire” assignment.
The crew from Tower 1 made their way to the 5th floor and located the fire in Unit 511. The crew crawled into the apartment to search for the occupants while Engine 2’s crew advanced a hose line from the stairwell.
Engine 1 and Ladder 2 made their way to the 6th floor to evacuate the apartments above the fire and to check for fire extension. While climbing the stairs to the 6th floor, Engine 1’s crew found an occupant in the stairwell, on the 4th floor, who was burned and having trouble breathing. The crew brought the occupant down to the lobby and treated him until EMS arrived. The occupant was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Engine 3 arrived on scene and was given Engine 1’s original assignment to check for fire extension on the 6th floor.
Crews on the 5th floor extinguished the fire and prevented it from spreading to any adjacent units. There was a heavy smoke condition on floors 5 and 6. Crews vented the building and used multi gas meters to monitor the air quality levels before allowing occupants to return to their apartments.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the department’s Fire Investigation Unit.
Two prospective residents take a look at the custom light fixtures in the lobby of One North, which is still under construction. The fixtures were specially designed for the space and are made of custom-cut mosaic tiles.
Downtown Boston has moved a few steps closer to Chelsea as the One North of Boston luxury apartments prepare for an April opening – with the project already leasing units and giving tours to prospective residents.
“This is downtown living at a much more affordable price point,” said developer Damian Szary. “These are apartments with more space, an impressive array of amenities and just one mile north of downtown – but at prices that we believe are much more competitive. We’re getting a great response so far.”
And while location, well-appointed apartments and quality construction are important selling points – as they always have been – amenities are where ideas turn to sales these days.
Szary said One North has recognized that and has put in some very unique services for residents of the new development.
One of those services is on-site doggie daycare, something more and more working professionals are seeking out. However, instead of having to drive and drop off their pets, residents will only have to take the elevator downstairs.
There is also a Club Suite for all residents to use, complete with a Chef’s Kitchen and Gaming Area. They have a theatre room, a fenced-in outdoor pool and sun deck lounge, garage parking, a network Internet cafe and a top-of-the-line Fitness Center.
Prices have debuted this past week at $1,395 for a 587 sq. ft. studio; $1,480 for a 681 sq. ft. one-bedroom; $1,560 for a one-bedroom with a den; $2,000 for a 1,042 sq. ft. two-bedroom; and $2,475 for a 1,241 sq. ft. three-bedroom.
The first phase of the development – which is the eastern half of the building – is slated to open in April. The second phase is to open up in June.
City Manager Jay Ash said he is impressed with the project after taking a tour, noting that it just adds to the new Chelsea “skyline” building up around Rt. 1.
“I took a tour on Friday: spectacular,” he said. “The amenities are first class, the apartments have great windows that allow all kinds of sunlight in and show off some spectacular views, including Downtown Boston, and you can’t beat the location – so proximate to the commuter rail train and the Silver Line when it eventually comes to town. That project is going to be a real winner and will set a new standard for Boston-quality living outside of Boston.”
One North is currently running a promotion where prospective residents get the first month free when they sign a one year lease agreement. For more information or to schedule a tour, call (617) 889-8030.