The owners of the old Forbes Lithograph campus on Mill Hill will likely propose a new project to the City in the coming months, like this summer, said City Manager Tom Ambrosino.
The Chinese company once proposed a gigantic campus development with skyscrapers, a hotel and more than 1,000 apartment units in a multi-phase development with one small entrance coming in through the neighborhood. It was vociferously opposed by most every resident and elected official in the City.
That was a couple of years ago, and since that time the company has been laying low and preparing to propose something a little more modest.
“My guess is perhaps they’ll be in front of us this summer,” said Ambrosino.
He said the development could likely be by right, meaning there might not be any reviews or public hearings necessary for the project to go forward.
He said the numbers of units would be far smaller than previously proposed and much less dense.
However, parking requirements for the district are two spots per unit, which might be hard for the developer to achieve by right. That would mean a parking variance would be required, triggering reviews and public hearings.
The issue of accessing the site still hasn’t been resolved.
Previously, Ambrosino had made a point of requiring that the company look into providing access via a bridge over the Chelsea Creek to the site from Revere. In the previous proposal, he had said he or the City would not support any proposal that didn’t include that access point.
It is uncertain at this point if that’s still the case with the smaller project that is believed to be coming.
Matt Maddox has been no stranger to the Everett casino, and above anyone else, the new CEO of Wynn Resorts – which includes Wynn Boston Harbor – is probably the one person most responsible for bringing the $2.4 billion resort casino across the Mystic River to Everett.
It was Maddox, who last month became the CEO in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations against former charismatic CEO Steve Wynn, who happened to see a small news clipping in his e-mail talking about a potential casino site being touted to Hard Rock Casino developers in Everett.
Fresh off a humbling casino proposal loss in Foxborough, the Wynn organization had pulled out of Massachusetts. As the story is told, though, Maddox hadn’t removed the Boston news alerts from his computer.
So it was he saw that little story about Everett that piqued his interest about another run at a Boston casino.
A phone call to Steve Tocco of Mintz Levin, and then a few phone calls around Everett, and shortly after that Maddox was taking a walking tour of the site, which he was very excited about. Soon after that, Steve Wynn and Maddox were sitting in Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s office at Everett City Hall.
The rest, of course, is history.
Maddox has rarely told that story, but it’s one that has become more appropriate for the Wynn Boston Harbor venture as Maddox, 42, has now taken charge of the Wynn company.
According to a biography provided by Wynn, Maddox grew up in a very small town in Arkansas with a population of just over 5,000 people. With a keen interest in investment banking since he was a small child in Arkansas, Maddox pursued that career early in life and worked for Bank of America and, later, for the predecessor of Caesar’s Entertainment.
That job caught the eye of the Wynn team, who formed Wynn Resorts in 2002 and made Maddox one of their first hires. He served as treasurer and vice president of investor relations when he came to Wynn, with one of his first tasks being to secure the financing for the Wynn Las Vegas project.
However, his claim to fame with the company was forging a path in Macau to secure a casino property there – a property that has become a major revenue source for the company.
“Maddox was among the first of the Wynn executive team to relocate to China in 2003, becoming the Chief Financial Officer of Wynn Resorts Macau,” read the company bio. “During his three years in Asia, he was a key leader on the pre-opening team that built the organization from ground breaking through the resort opening in 2006. The resulting Wynn Macau has proven to be one of the most successful integrated resorts ever created, and remains the only resort in the world with eight Forbes Five Star awards. In 2005, Mr. Maddox was named Senior Vice President of Business Development for Wynn Las Vegas, and later for Wynn Resorts.”
In 2013, after being promoted to president and chief financial officer, he focused on China once again and led the financing for the $4.2 billion Wynn Palace in Cotai. That hotel has also won awards from Forbes and has more than 1,000 rooms.
Last month, during the scandal that rocked the Wynn empire, Maddox assumed the duties of CEO of the company from Steve Wynn, who resigned his position. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) continues an investigation into the suitability of the company, as well as who knew about settlements and payments made by Steve Wynn for alleged sexual misconduct in 2005.
Maddox told the Boston Globe in a recent interview that he did not know about the settlement allegations during the vetting process in Massachusetts, and said the company has an investigation going on right now that is looking into who knew what and when.
Maddox has not been available to local reporters, but in an interview with the Boston Globe, he affirmed his support for Wynn Boston Harbor, and also said that the Wynn company is more than one person.
“Wynn is not about one person, it’s not about management, it’s about the 25,000 people that work here,” he told employees recently during a meeting following the fallout, according to Wynn.
He told the Globe that they are still committed to the Boston project fully, and have no intentions to sell it off to another developer.
“Absolutely,” he told the Globe. “We have spent $1.3 billion out of $2.4 billion [budgeted for Everett]. There are between 1,200 and 1,400 construction workers on site every day. I’m telling you, this is going to be the nicest integrated resort in the Northeast. It will have the biggest ballroom in the Northeast, 671 hotel rooms, 13 food and beverage outlets. It’s full steam ahead.”
Another hot topic has been the name of the property. While many believe that the Wynn brand name is now tainted beyond repair, Maddox told the Globe emotions are too raw right now to make that kind of game-changing decision.
“Emotions are so raw right now around this topic,” he told the Globe. “What I’m telling people is you don’t look at those things right now in this state. Because Wynn is a brand — it’s not about a person, it’s about the 25,000 people that work here. Our Chinese customers — we had one of our biggest Chinese New Year’s ever last week — they understand the Wynn brand. They don’t associate it with a person; they associate it with luxury and with service and with first class.”
Finally, he told the Globe that the Everett casino will still have the luxury cache that all Wynn properties have, even without the personal touch of Steve Wynn.
He told the Globe that Roger Thomas has been the company’s chief designer for several years, and Steve Wynn had not been involved at the detail level for some time. The last two casino openings, Maddox said, have been handled chiefly by Thomas.
“Roger is the author and Steve was always the editor,” Maddox told the Globe. “Steve had very clear ideas about how he wanted to do things. But Roger is the person — along with his quite large team — who specifies where we get the granite. Steve Wynn — he is a visionary. It is a fact. You can look up and down Las Vegas. But we have people who have worked on all these projects, in the design, conception, and execution, for over 30 years. There are no better-trained people in the world to execute new projects. We’re the ones who have done it.”
Maddox is expected to travel to Everett to take a tour of the resort casino project in the next month or so.
The 2016-17 South End Writes series will include debut novelist and baker Louise Miller (The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living); Dina Vargo (Wild Women of Boston) and the culinary luminary Gordon Hamersley.
- Tuesday, October 25: Louise Miller, a Boston-based writer and pastry chef who won a scholarship to GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator program, will read from her debut work of fiction, ‘The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living,’ published this summer by Viking’s Pamela Dorman Books imprint.
- Tuesday, November 22: Just in time to get advice about Thanksgiving’s feast, the beloved and greatly missed South End culinary luminary, Gordon Hamersley, will talk about his life as a prize-winning chef, current food writer for the Boston Globe and long-time neighborhood fixture.
CANDIDATE KEITH ENDORSED BY B&T
Calling him a “refreshing change” in “the current environment of extreme political polarization”, Banker & Tradesman has endorsed John Keith for Suffolk County Register of Deeds.
“A seasoned Boston real estate agent, Keith has a general familiarity with how the Registry operates and seems genuinely eager to learn what he doesn’t know,” read the endorsement.
“Keith is an active user of social media, tweeting his observations about real estate and the city with light, offbeat humor – under which lies a deep understanding of the market and the various forces that shape it. Throughout his campaign Keith has made clear he has both the ability and the desire to do the job, which comes with an annual salary of $124,000, and comes across as the most earnest and forthcoming of what is clearly a strong field of candidates.”
John Keith is a Massachusetts native, a graduate of Northeastern University, and a long-time Boston resident. He has been a real estate broker for the past 14 years. He has a background in management, and experience in accounting, software implementation, and data and business analysis.
The election for Suffolk County Register of Deeds is on November 8, 2016.
PUMPKIN FLOAT ON FROG POND
Mayor Martin J. Walsh has announced that the annual Fall Pumpkin Float returns to the Boston Common Frog Pond on Sunday, Oct. 23, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Hundreds of illuminated jack-o’-lanterns will be floated on the water accompanied by spooky family activities.
Attendees are asked to bring 8-inch or smaller carved pumpkins that will be lit and then floated on the Frog Pond for a dramatic early evening display. In addition, attendees are invited to view creatively carved and decorated jack-o’-lanterns from various local sports teams and organizations. Adults and children are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes and participate in a wide range of fun activities. Children are invited to decorate luminary bags which will be displayed and illuminated along the edge of the Frog Pond. Test your courage and problem-solving skills in our haunted zombie maze.
This free family-friendly event will also include a magician, a visit from the L.L. Bean Bootmobile, children’s crafts, an IKEA selfie booth with LATTJO costumes and sweet treats to try, games and giveaways by Magic 106.7, and scarily delicious snacks and refreshments provided by IKEA, Capital One Café, HP Hood LLC, and DAVIDsTEA.
All pumpkins will be donated to The Trustees of Reservations after the event for composting.
For more information, please call the Boston Parks and Recreation Department at (617) 635-4505 or visit www.facebook.com/bostonparksdepartment or www.boston.gov/parks.
FENWAY COMMUNITY CENTER
The Fenway Community Center has booked several special events over the next several weeks. The Center is located at 1282 Boylston St. and the phone number is (857) 246-9053.
- Social dancing on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:20-3:20 p.m. at the Center, mostly with Chinese music and frequented by Chinese elders, though all are welcome.
- Student Volunteers – The Fenway Community Center is calling on Northeastern University students who will be living off-campus this fall to volunteer at the Center. Greeters are needed for a one-hour weekly commitment. Volunteers who serving 11 hours or more in a three-month period will be invited to the FCC Ice Cream Social as an appreciation. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Welcome to the Neighborhood for Northeastern University students who might be interested in the Fenway Community Center. The group will meet every month on the first Thursday, starting Oct. 6.
- Councilor Josh Zakim District 8 Fall Community Night will take place on Thursday, Oct. 13, at 6 p.m. at the FCC. Pizza and refreshments will be provided.
SOUTH END DATES
- Hayes Park is having a Silent Auction Fundraiser on Thursday, October 20, from 6-8 p.m. at Woodmeister Master Builders, 1317 Washington Street. Tickets available online.
- BRA Director Brian Golden is confirmed to return to the South End Forum at its Nov. 1 meeting, according to Steve Fox, moderator of the Forum. Golden spoke at length during the September Forum meeting, and many questions remained when time ran out. He will be back to continue the conversation.
- Old Dover Fall Social, Join Old Dover Neighborhood Association for a Fall Social at LaMotta’s Restaurant, 1357 Washington St., on Tuesday, Oct. 11 from 6-8 p.m. Complimentary apps and a cash bar.
- Alley Clean Up, residents from East Springfield and Mass Avenue will join neighbors and the Boston Police to conduct a fall cleanup of Alley 716. The event is billed as a great opportunity to meet neighbors and visit with old friends while addressing a quality of life situation. Gloves and garbage bags will be provided. Any questions can be addressed to Vicki Via at email@example.com
- Bed Bugs! South End librarian Matt Krug has organized a seminar on Thursday morning, October 6, at 10:30 a.m. on the subject of bed bugs. Yes, bed bugs appear to be a problem in the South End. The speaker is Jonathan Boyar an associate certified entomologist and pest control operator with many years experience. For details, call 617 536-8241.
RETIREMENT PLANNING FROM GOLDEN AGE CENTER
The Golden Age Center and Castle Square Tenants Organization are partnering to bring valuable information to educate residents and the community regarding retirement planning. The SHINE program will present a retirement planning workshop on Monday October 17, 6-8 p.m. in the Castle Square Community Center on the 2nd floor (476 Tremont St.). The workshop will be conducted in English and Chinese. Refreshments provided.
Please contact Xiaoping Wang with any questions at 617-357-8548.
Workshop topics will include:
-Medicare, Medicaid, and other Health Insurance
-Social Security eligibility with Medicare, Medicaid
-Calculating social security retirement benefits
-Deciding between full and early retirement
-Managing 401 K or 403 (b) Retirement income
FENWAY/SOUTH END HOURS FOR CONGRESSMAN CAPUANO
Congressman Michael Capuano will hold office hours for the Fenway and South End neighborhoods on the second Thursday of every month at the Fenway Community Health Center, 1340 Boylston St.
The hours are from noon to 1 p.m. and will have a representative from Capuano’s office in attendance.
The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) denied a large-scale development on the Forbes site in Mill Hill and approved a four-unit development on the old Parrotta’s Bar site at Williams Street during a meeting on Tuesday night.
With three agenda items cancelled, including TND’s French Club site, in order to wait for Planning Board hearings next week, the full agenda became much lighter – with Forbes going first.
Attorney Paul Feldman said there were no changes proposed to the development, that coming despite rampant displeasure with the project at a December ZBA meeting and a recommendation to deny by the Planning Board also.
“We are not proposing changes to the proposal that we shared at the last public hearing,” he said. “We believe after looking at the zoning ordinances that we meet the criteria…and ask you to approve the Special Permit.”
The plan by the Chinese company YIHE Forbes – which looked to spend in the ballpark of $500 million to make the project on the old Forbes Industrial site a reality – is very ambitious and has drawn attention since last summer when it was submitted due to the large number of units and the 27-story skyscraper that is the centerpiece of the project. There is also a major retail component, as well as open space and hotel operations. It would be phased over 11 years.
Councillor Matt Frank said neighbors are still against it and so is he.
“I believe the Board can go forward and deny it and make it go away now,” he said.
That’s just what the ZBA did, denying it by a 3-0 vote.
- A second proposal for 73 Winnisimmet St. has been just as controversial, even though much smaller. The active waterfront neighborhood has been fighting developer Genevra Faber for months on the project – including a hearing in December that lasted more than an hour and grew very contentious at times.
On Tuesday, Attorney Nick Nardone announced that they were scaling down from the eight units previously proposed in what would be a brand new building. Instead, they will offer two commercial units on the ground level and four residential units on the top two floors – units that would be two-bedroom and around 1,300 sq. ft. Another change was to take the parking garage out of the plan and return to an open air parking lot. The new building would be just about the same footprint as the existing building, and there would be six parking spaces.
A roof deck was also moved to accommodate neighbors on the eastern side of the building.
“We do believe this is a good compromise between the neighbors and the developer and we hope the Board believe that as well,” Nardone said.
Said abutter Connie Medico, “This is an improvement but I would like to see the two commercial spaces with limited hours so you don’t have a 7-11 slide in there.”
The commercial spaces would require approval by the ZBA for most uses and are limited to the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sardine said Faber envisions businesses locating there doing office-type work.
Several neighbors, though less emphatically, still did not like the project and went against it. That was mainly because of the parking situation. The project requires around 11 spaces and only six are provided.
Others didn’t like the integration with the developer, who they said has only recently changed the plans.
“In this long process, this is the first time I’ve seen any addressing of the concerns of the neighbors,” said Allison Shepherd. “It’s about time, but I still think it’s too big.”
More than a few others felt the same way.
The ZBA approved 3-0.
By Seth Daniel
There was nothing rough around the edges about the presentation by Yihe Forbes LLC at Tuesday’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meeting on Tuesday night.
In fact, the polished attorneys, architects, engineers and consultants were pretty much the best team that money could buy in Boston.
Even so, neighbors and elected officials said over and over again there was such an outlandishness to the 534-unit, 253-room hotel with 25,000 sq. ft. of retail space – all coming in over one small bridge and through the Mill Hill neighborhood – that many simply laughed the proposal away or began to think about possible conspiracy theories.
“I was waiting for Ashton Kutcher to come out and the MTV camera crews to tell us all we’d been ‘Punked,’” said Councillor Dan Cortell, referring to the popular practical joke television show. “The proposal sounds like Station Landing and Assembly Row stuffed into one spot, but with only one entrance and exit. They were taking notes during all the comments the whole way through, but at some point you just have to highlight the whole book. The City Manager asked for a second or alternate egress as a conversation starter and they had nothing to offer. How surprised could they have been by what was said?”
Said neighbor Betty Richards of Hooper Street, a normally very vocal voice at ZBA meetings, “I can’t even speak words about how bad this is. This is so asinine and stupid and I don’t know know what planet this is coming from.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino lent the strongest voice against the plan, calling for it to be dispatched at the earliest point possible. He said he has worked with the architects, attorneys and consultants on the Waterfront Square project in Revere Beach from when he was the Revere mayor, and was surprised at their conduct on this project.
“These are great folks on the team,” he said. “I’ve worked with them before and we had meetings with the developer and the City for four years before we even got to a hearing at the ZBA. There’s none of that with this proposal. I’ve been in this business a long time. That’s how it’s done. When a project is proposed without any of that, I question the seriousness of it. I urge you to shoot this down at the earliest point possible and they can go back to the drawing board because they are capable. Then, they can engage us.”
Very importantly, Fire Deputy Chief Paul Giancola said the CFD is absolutely against the plan because they can’t handle it and have issues with the access.
“We oppose this project totally,” he said. “It’s unacceptable. We can’t handle it…You can’t have one bridge to get in and out. The second bridge you have on the plans for emergency access says it’s a pedestrian bridge…We just don’t have the manpower to handle this, and the 27-story building is just too high.”
The plan by the Chinese company – which looks to spend in the ballpark of $500 million to make the project on the old Forbes Industrial site a reality – is very ambitious and has drawn attention since last summer when it was submitted due to the large number of units and the 27-story skyscraper that is the centerpiece of the project.
While the density is an overriding concern, a more critical concern has been access to the site. Right now, the only access is via Crescent Avenue off of Eastern Avenue – taking a small bridge over to the island-like spit of the vacant, 18-acre former home to the world-famous Forbes printing company.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino has told the developers that a good starting place would be to develop an alternative access point that doesn’t travel through Mill Hill. He has been a proponent of tying into Rt. 1A via a small bridge that would span the Creek and lead to Railroad Avenue in Revere.
However, project Attorney Paul Feldman said they had explored the idea of putting a bridge across the Creek with the MBTA and it was shot down.
“We have done some exploration of alternative access,” he said. “I can say to you that alternative access doesn’t work. We have to be straight up and transparent. We can’t tell you there is an alternative access that is available, but what we can do is make the site work. We have enough confidence to invest a half million dollars that this will work without an alternative access.”
It wasn’t good enough for Ambrosino.
“There was just an appalling lack of attention to the desperate need for an alternative access,” he said. “I really don’t think there was sufficient energy spent to explore alternative accesses to the site.”
He said though it presented problems and expense, it’s what major developers do to move along big developments like the Forbes.
The developers also proposed that there would be no traffic in the neighborhoods off of Crescent Avenue, zeroing out any traffic impacts on streets like Clinton Street and others.
“When Eastern Avenue gets backed up like it always does, everyone is going to go on the side streets,” said Clinton Street resident Christine Barnes.
“That’s unrealistic,” added City Planner John DePriest.
And as a bone thrown to the neighbors (which turned out to be a rotten tomato), Feldman proposed completely rehabilitating Crescent Avenue – replacing the water mains, building sidewalks where there are none and reconstructing the street. Within that plan, they proposed taking away parking from the western side of the street to widen the road. Instead, the developer would create two neighborhood parking lots on property he owns by the Burke Complex and the entry way to Forbes. There would be 32 street spaces lost, but 40 spaces in the parking lots gained. Unfortunately, that plan would call for long-time neighbors to not be able to park in front of their homes any longer.
“These are people’s homes and many of them have lived there a long time and they want to say we can’t park in front of our homes anymore,” she Richards. “They want us to walk all the way down the street now and park in a lot they’re going to provide for us so they can have their development.”
Prior to the big whiff by Yihe Forbes, Feldman and the team – who have put together projects such as the Cambridgeside Galleria and Patriot Place – presented a spectacular presentation regarding the plans for the site. It included the massive amounts of residential apartments and condos built in five phases with seven acres of waterfront open space for everyone to enjoy. There was far more parking than required in a garage deck that would sit under a large, raised plaza – with the hotel and retail portions being right at the entrance to the site. The plan was drawn up using the City’s 2004 Planning Document with its recommendations for 500 units on the Forbes site, Feldman said. He also added that the project when fully built would result in $6 million per year in property taxes – a hefty sum for a small City like Chelsea.
There were plans for 20,000 sq. ft. of landscaped roofing, car sharing services on site, fine restaurants, a shuttle service and, perhaps even, an ice cream shop for neighbors to frequent as they perched on the waterfront for a picnic lunch.
Sounded great, but it was just a little too far-fetched for most neighbors to take seriously – and the seriousness of the project was probably the greatest critique during the meeting, which stretched on until almost midnight.
Councillor Matt Frank urged the ZBA to dispatch the plan immediately.
“You can put $500 million on the table and if it blows the community apart, then it’s really not worth it,” he said. “If the MBTA can say ‘no,’ and the MassDOT can say ‘no,’ then the City of Chelsea can also say ‘no.’”
Added Council President Leo Robinson, “We don’t need to jump at the first thing thrown at us. We should be able to control what goes there. Something significant is obviously going to go there, but we can sit down and get a better deal than this.”
What was at one time a not-so-serious, placeholder proposal for the vacant Forbes site by a Chinese company is increasingly looking like the final proposal after a meeting on Monday night at the Residence Inn revealed no changes to the plan.
Representatives of YIHE Forbes LLC, of Guangzhou, China, and the Boston law firm Davis, Malm & D’Agostine met with neighbors on Monday night, Nov. 30, at the hotel to discuss the proposal that is set to go to a public hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Dec. 8.
While last summer’s more than 150-page submission to the City – complete with 27-story buildings – was deemed something that wasn’t serious, that submission seems to be getting more serious by the day and will be what is proposed on Dec. 8.
A detailed plan of several hundreds pages – and prepared by some of the most renowned architects, lawyers and engineers in Boston – was submitted in August for the Forbes site and calls for 534 residential apartments in towers stretching as high as 27 stories, 224 rooms in two hotels, a 333 seat luxury restaurant and nearly 100,000 sq. ft. of office space – all utilizing one single access point over the railroad tracks at Crescent Ave.
Mill Hill Councillor Matt Frank, who attended the meeting, said it was a monumental plan and one he cannot support.
“It’s still a ludicrous proposal as I said before,” he said. “It’s still a 27-story building and way too much development. A 27-story building is much taller than Broadway Glen. The amount of retail is larger than the Market Basket footprint. The amount of residential units is larger than One North. The hotel is the size of the Wyndham and the Residence Inn put together. We’re talking about the largest residential development, the tallest building, the largest hotel and putting it all on an 18-acre plot with one street to access it and a narrow bridge. That’s where the problem comes in.”
He said the developers also had a miscue in not notifying the entire neighborhood, but only on street – Crescent Avenue. He also said the project just doesn’t take the surrounding neighborhood – that of detached homes in a semi-suburban feel – into account.
“That’s not a full-fledged suburb, but it’s certainly not city living either,” he said. “This is something that belongs in Cambridge or downtown Boston. It’s beautiful; I’ll give them that, but still ludicrous.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he will not support the project, but understands something needs to go on the Forbes site.
“My opinion hasn’t changed really,” he said. “It’s a huge site and there will be development there that is significant…I think what they’re proposing with 500 residences in a 25 story tower is a little bit overkill and out of character with the neighborhood. Given that it doesn’t seem like they’ve spent much time exploring alternative access to the site, that’s not a proposal anyone in the City could reasonably support.”
Ambrosino said the access point to the site needs to be explored and solved. If not, something will go on the site with access that will be intrusive to neighbors.
“What concerns me most about that property is that something significant is going to be developed there,” he said. “If the alternative access problem cannot be solved, then any development there will have a big impact. I’m not sure what to do about that because the City cannot deny every single proposal. It’s a big site.”
Ambrosino suggested an access point using Railroad Street in Revere and crossing over the Mill Creek and into Forbes. That would keep most vehicles out of the Chelsea neighborhood and give exclusive access to the development from major roadways like Rt. 1, Rt. 1A and the Parkway.
“It’s not a long span across the water and it could be expensive but I don’t think it is insurmountable,” he said. “You have to address the environmental issues, but if you’re investing $500 million, it could make sense to think about another $50 million to solve the access problem.”
It would be an understatement to say that Edson Coimbra and Marvin Posada understand the restaurant business.
The two long-time high-end restaurant employees – who have cooked and managed such notable places like Mistral and L’Andana, are excited to bring a new, higher-end pizza choice to Williams Street in Chelsea.
Both owners have been toiling for months on Ciao Wood-Fired Pizza and Past, building a brick, wood-fired oven in the former Chinese Food restaurant, but said this week they hope to open in the next two weeks.
“More than anything, we want this to be community focused,” said Coimbra. “I have been patronizing the businesses of Chelsea for 10 years. I know my neighbors. They all see me biking with my kids. I support the businesses here whenever I can. Now, we’re opening our own business and we can get down in dealing with the building issues or contractor problems. What’s encouraging is seeing the tremendous response from everyone. Just when we’re at a tough point with the construction, someone will come in and ask when we’re opening. They tell us they can’t wait for it to open. That makes it all worth it and really pushes us forward. We only have an idea right now. We haven’t opened, but people are already embracing and looking forward to us.”
Coimbra said so many people have gone above and beyond to give them a hand, such as local plumber Jim Dunn of Neecy Mechanical and his crew – who have bent over backward to help the startup get going.
Building owner Roy Avellaneda said he wanted something different in the space, and believes he has found something that will be very successful.
“Edson used to come to my coffee shop years ago and I knew him then,” said Avellaneda. “I think that they should make a bigger brick over, because I think they’ll be for more successful than they think. They have something very different and exciting to bring to the community.”
Posada, who started as a dishwasher at Mistral and worked his way up to being a chef, said they will concentrate on high-quality, wood-fired pizzas in their brand new brick oven and also homemade pastas.
“The main focus is wood-fired pizza and homemade pasta,” he said. “That will be a staple. We’ll have panini’s and salads too. Everything will be done from scratch. It’s a way you present yourself. If I start using things prepared by someone else, I’m not presenting myself. By making everything from scratch, you can control the quality. I know we’ll get a second look in Chelsea. There’s really nothing similar to what we’re planning to do here.”
Both men said, when they worked at the various fine dining restaurants, they often talked about branching out on their own. Coimbra had the management skills and Posada had the cooking skills, but nothing ever came together. After Coimbra left to pursue a banking career for a few years, he realized he wanted to start his own restaurant, and he wanted to do it in Chelsea.
“We got together for coffee one day,” said Coimbra. “It was not a meeting and we had no plans, but we started talking and bouncing ideas off of one another.”
Added Posada, “He told me he knew of a small place in Chelsea that was available and the next thing you know we were looking at the space and then we had a lease. It’s only 500 square feet, but it’s a great place to launch our brand.”
Both learned a great deal in their former roles in food service, and said they have the same vision and passion for what they’re doing as the owners of those restaurants, such as Mistral.
“Mistral has been open since 1997; they must be doing something right,” said Coimbra. “We learned a lot from them. We have that vision. We will put the customer first always and we will really become part of the community.”
Both men also chronicled their start, working their way up from the bottom to gain success.
“We’ve both worked very hard t
Business partners Marvin Posada and Edson Coimbra are poised to open Ciao! Pizza and Pasta in the next two weeks on Williams Street. Both men have a long background in cooking
and managing fine dining restaurants, and hope to bring what they’ve learned to their unique wood-fired pizza place.
o get here,” said Coimbra. “Both of us started form the bottom. We’re using our own funds to do this. It’s more than just a small joint for us. We’re pumped and excited to do this, especially in Chelsea. I live in Chelsea and love the community here and feel very comfortable here.”
Added Posada, “I feel we’re going to be part of the big changes that are already happening here in Chelsea. The opportunity for us is different. I’ve been doing fine dining for 15 years, but the support we’re getting is so overwhelming. We are excited to bring this high-quality food and fine dining experience without the high price.”
Potentially, the newest neighbors in the Mill Hill neighborhood at the Forbes Plant site won’t be able to be missed under any circumstance.
That’s because plans call for them to be 27 stories in the air.
A detailed plan of several hundreds pages – and prepared by some of the most renowned architects, lawyers and engineers in Boston – has been submitted by a Chinese company to the City for the Forbes site and calls for 534 residential apartments in towers stretching as high as 27 stories, a 224 rooms in two hotels, a 333 seat luxury restaurant and nearly 100,000 sq. ft. of office space – all utilizing one single access point over the railroad tracks at Crescent Ave..
The gargantuan, high-rise development on Chelsea Creek comes just one week after the active Mill Hill neighborhood organized and vocally turned back a much smaller 60-unit development at the French Club.
“It’s absolutely a ludicrous proposal,” said District Councillor Matt Frank. “I spoke with the Planning Department and the City Manager and they say it doesn’t seem to be completely serious. We still need to treat it as if it is serious. It’s on of those things you have to keep an eye on. Absolutely not. No way. Never ever. I can’t use the word ludicrous enough when it comes to this.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said the project is probably not all that serious, and so its probably not worth neighbors getting super-charged over. However, he said that given the development climate, neighbors should be ready for something to be located at Forbes.
“We did get that proposal and it entails 1.5 million square feet of development with high-rises and two hotels,” he said. “It is probably a little too intense. We will have to hold a hearing on it and we will do that at the end of September. My guess is that it won’t be that much of a hearing. My message to the neighbors is that they should not panic because it doesn’t appear to be anything the City would likely approve in its current fashion. It’s nothing to get all worked up about at this point. It will be quite a while before anything is decided there. It is an interesting site and it’s not likely to remain undeveloped and won’t be a few single-family homes when it is developed.”
YIHE Forbes LLC, of Guangzhou, China, has proposed the development via the Boston law firm Davis, Malm & D’Agostine.
The company, in its filing with the City, said it “aspires to the creation of nature, archeology, culture and harmonious living habitats….Every project that YIHE has accomplished has become the local luxury benchmark of the City.”
The proposal calls for five phases of development and a development that steps down to the water.
That means that the tallest buildings, up to 27 stories, would be on the back of the lot nearest the train tracks and the neighborhood.
Only two of the existing Forbes buildings would be retained.
The first phase of development would build 136 units in a high-rise on the northern end of the 18-acre parcel.
The second and third phase would continue high-rise apartment development adjacent to the train tracks.
The fourth and fifth phases would develop the hotels, commercial/retail spaces and the office space.
The front of the site would contain low-rise residential housing and would be in Phase 3.
There would be 1,300 parking spots in a garage located below the entire development and a plaza.
The plan calls for 142,294 sq. ft. of retail and commercial space and 94,723 sq. ft. of office space.
The buildout is targeted as 11 years in total, but most of the construction is scheduled to take place in the first four years.
While the project has no total value set to it, it is said to be a market rate housing development. There is also mention of housing for foreign students as well – which could be the real purpose of the development, in whatever form it eventually takes.
Companies associated with the slick-looking submission are Arrowstreet Architects, Epsilon Associates Environmental, Millennium Architecture and Halvorson Design.
Frank said that is one of the things that troubles him most about the alleged lack of seriousness. The players involved are rather serious, top-flight development consultants in Boston who have worked on the most notable developments in Greater Boston.
“The people involved are not people who just get involved to slap their name on a resume,” he said. “These are people you may big money to get
Renders here show what Chinese company YIHE has proposed
for the Forbes site, a proposal that calls for more than 500 units in 27-story buildings – along with a hotel, a restaurant and office space. City officials have indicated that the proposal may not be completely serious, but a hearing will take place in September.
…I don’t know if this is one of those things where they propose a 27-story tower and then back off to a 15-story tower and hope that people will accept it because it’s better than what was there first. The neighborhood has just recently stood up against a much smaller development. I’m not sure what the solution is on the Forbes site, but a 27-story building is surely no the solution.”
YIHE is calling for a Planned Development designation and would need loads and loads of zoning changes. The maximum height allowed in the district now is 35 feet by right, and YIHE proposes to go up to nearly 300 feet.
The decision by Global Petroleum officials to withdraw their application to bring Ethanol trains to its Revere/East Boston terminal on tracks running through the communities of Chelsea and Everett certainly comes as good news especially to residents who live near the train tracks or the terminal itself.
Last week’s explosion in Canada of crude oil gives a small glimpse of the potential devastation that we were opening ourselves to had Ethanol trains started rolling down our tracks since crude oil is nowhere near as flammable as Ethanol.
Growing up in our community, we never had much concern about the oil and gas tanks that are along our shorelines or the factories that were in our neighborhoods. This blissful ignorance came home to roost as many of these sites that we pass on a daily basis are now brownfields that will take years and millions of dollars to clean-up.
However, the Ethanol proposal raised the stakes beyond what we were willing to accept.
For Revere resident Ed O’Hara, the Ethanol plan by Global officials set in motion a two- year crusade to stop this proposal.
O’Hara was tireless in first alerting residents in Revere along the train tracks where Ed’s daughter and grandchildren also live. He was up at the City Council urging Councillors to pass resolutions against the plan. He worked on having the Ethanol proposal put on as a ballot question, with Revere voters overwhelmingly rejecting Global’s plan.
Almost on a weekly basis, Ed would come into the newspaper offices with another letter and more facts about train crashes and the potential disaster that could be in store for residents in these communities.
Ed then started to find more organizations in the impacted communities like The Chelsea Human Service Collaborative and NOAH in East Boston to help in the fight.
Eventually, both State Senators, Anthony Petruccelli and Sal DiDomenico added language in a Senate bill that would have made it very difficult, if not impossible, for Global to gain the necessary state approvals for their Ethanol train plan.
And on last Monday, Global officials scrapped their plan rather than litigate it after viewing the entrenched opposition by residents of these communities. In the end Global might have prevailed in the court but they took the high road and just shelved their plan.
The final outcome of the Ethanol train saga proves the Chinese proverb, “Victory has many fathers.”