Zoning Board to Hear Major Plan for Forbes Site in Mill Hill

Zoning Board to Hear Major Plan for Forbes Site in Mill Hill

The Chinese company that was sent packing in 2015 for a far-reaching plan for the Forbes site that included skyscrapers more than 20 stories tall, is now back before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) next month with a more modest – but still large – plan for the site.

YIHE will present a plan for the 18-acre Forbes site on Sept. 11 to the ZBA that includes 630 residential units (approximately 700,000 sq. ft.), and 44,230 sq. ft. of non-residential space to include resident amenities, retail and dining and a co-working space. Some 60 percent of the units will be home ownership opportunities and 40 percent will be rentals. There will be 80 studios, 330 one-bedrooms, and 220 two-bedrooms in the residential scheme.

Known as Summer Court, the project will also include much improved public open space and public access to Chelsea Creek.

“The development will step down in height towards the waterfront, with the tallest buildings proposed along the eastern portion of the site to mitigate impact on the adjacent neighborhood and shorter, smaller buildings closer to the entrance,” read the report. “Parking will be provided in a single-story parking garage located beneath the plaza and a parking garage adjacent to the railroad tracks.”

The project will retain three existing buildings on the site, but others will not be able to be saved. There are 949 spaces contemplated in the garages, and the zoning requires 1,268 spaces.

Summer Court will have a large plaza in the middle parcel with ready access to retail and restaurant spaces. The portion of the project abutting Chelsea Creek is perhaps the most intriguing. Using a stepped board wark that will also serve as flood retention, the area will include a plaza with green space and water access.

“The waterfront plaza will offer opportunities for the public to enjoy the site’s magnificent views of the Boston skyline when using walking and jogging paths or resting on benches,” read the filing.

One major sticking point will likely be the one means of accessing the site over the MBTA railroad bridge. The only way to get to the large development will be to travel by a large school complex and through a low-density residential neighborhood on Crescent Avenue.

“The project includes the relocation of the western bridge to just east of the eastern bridge,” read the filing. “Both bridges will be placed into service in order to provide redundant access in the event of an emergency. The entrance road will ramp down from the elevated road over the tracks toward the waterfront plaza.”

YIHE purchased the site in 2014 with the intention of redeveloping the site.

  • Also at the ZBA, but on Thursday, Sept. 13, will be a proposal at 208 Spencer Street to redevelop a one-family home into a nine-unit, four-story residential building.

The proposal comes from South Boston’s OPC Development, and will include nine parking spaces (four of which are compact) on the first floor of the development.

The units will all be two-bedroom units with a private balcony and/or roof decks. They will average 1,134 sq. ft. with all units on floors two through four.

The meeting on Sept. 13 will also have on the agenda the four-story, 42 unit building proposed by Traggorth and The Neighborhood Developers (TND) on what is now a vacant lot (formerly Midas) at 1001 Broadway.

Read More

Large Crowds Enjoy Live Racing, Food Trucks at Suffolk Downs

Large Crowds Enjoy Live Racing, Food Trucks at Suffolk Downs

More than 13,000 people came to Suffolk Downs this weekend to enjoy live thoroughbred racing and a food truck festival.

And what a show it was. There was a carnival-like atmosphere on two hot summer days at the popular East Boston racetrack.

Longtime horseracing fans stood trackside next to some some young families who were getting their first, up-close look at what was once one of the most popular sports in the United States. The Kentucky Derby, for example, is still often called “most exciting two minutes in all of sports.”

Chief of Operations Chip Tuttle, a giant in the industry of horse racing, was very pleased with the large turnout on both days. He said the food trucks are always a nice draw that gives people variety over the standard racetrack faire.

There had been some concern at mid-week that the weekend of racing might not materialize after the State Legislature failed to vote on the measure during the last day (July 31) of its legislative session. But the legislature met informally Thursday to reinstate the law and Gov. Charlie Baker signed it, thus allowing for simulcasting and live racing to resume.

“Thankfully it was taken care of quickly and we appreciate the work of the House leadership, and the Senate, and the governor to get it remedied in less than 48 years hours,” said Tuttle. “We thank Speaker DeLeo for his efforts especially.”

Tuttle said that Suffolk has a request before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to add another weekend of live racing on Sept. 15-16. “It’s on the Commission’s agenda for their meeting on Aug. 14,” said Tuttle. “We’d really like to run one more weekend. There’s certainly funding to do it in the Racehorse Development Fund and it helps the local horsemen, the Massachusetts breeders. They don’t have as many opportunities to run for purse money as they like and we’re doing our best to accommodate them.”

Tuttle said that Suffolk Downs will be open through the end of the year (2018) for simulcasting.

“And we’re already in discussions with both the horsemen and HYM [the real estate company that will be redeveloping the Suffolk property] about dates for the first half of 2019,” he added.

Read More

Two-Way Broadway Comes Down to a Vote of Traffic Commission July 24

Two-Way Broadway Comes Down to a Vote of Traffic Commission July 24

The decision for whether or not to make the Broadway business corridor into a two-way street will come down to a vote of the Traffic Commission on Tuesday, July 24.

Several City officials have already weighed in on the issue, and it could be the most significant change to the surging downtown area in decades.

Two-way Broadway came about during the Re-Imaging Broadway workshops and study that were done all last year. Consultants suggested many options to improve the circulation and vibrancy of Broadway, and one of them was the possibility of making the street two-way instead of one-way.

The biggest backer of the plan is City Manager Tom Ambrosino, who has pledged that, if approved, he would stake his tenure on making the plan work. This week, he said he is still very much in favor of the idea.

“I’m a full supporter of Two-Way Broadway,” he said. “I believe the change will be transformative for the Downtown, both in terms of pedestrian and vehicular safety and in aesthetics. I will be advocating strongly for a favorable vote.”

Meanwhile, Council President Damali Vidot is not feeling the change. She said she appreciates the enthusiasm, but feels it’s a bad idea.

“I think it’s a horrible idea and one we’re not quite ready for,” she said. “Before the City goes changing long-time driving patterns on Broadway, we should deal with our existing parking and traffic issues and how to activate the businesses in that area. I appreciate the ambition and creativity of the pushers of this idea, but there are far bigger things to focus on in this district than changing the flow of traffic. You can put lipstick on a pig, but still Tedeschi and other businesses on Broadway need revival.”

Police Chief Brian Kyes is another long-time supporter of the two-way plan. Kyes sits on the Traffic Commission, and said he will support the plan.

“I concur wholeheartedly with the sentiments of City Manager Ambrosino on this important issue for the reasons that he cited,” said the Chief. “Both he and I have spoken at length on this issue and truly feel that this type of environmental design and resulting traffic configuration will not only enhance public safety, but also will be more aesthetically appealing and inviting to both the residents, visitors and business community.”

The Traffic Commission will take up the matter on Tuesday, July 24, at 6 p.m. in the Planning and Development Conference Room.

Read More

‘Welcome to Chelsea’ Photo Contest Winners Announced

‘Welcome to Chelsea’ Photo Contest Winners Announced

Chelsea Record photographer Katy Rogers has won three awards for her photography in the first-ever ‘Welcome to Chelsea’ photo contest, which was announced this week.

Record Photograper Katy Rogers took first in the People of Chelsea category with this photo entitled ‘Maggie and William.’

More than 40 photographs were contributed by amateur and professional photographers in the first “Welcome to Chelsea Photo Contest” over the spring. The contest was presented by Chelsea Prospers, the City of Chelsea’s initiative for vitality in the downtown, and the Facebook group Chelsea MA Photography Club coordinated by photographer and former City Councilor Matt Frank.

The judging panel included Darlene DeVita, an award-winning fine art photographer; Matt Frank, a former City Councilor and photographer who initiated the Chelsea MA Photography Club; State Rep. Roselee Vincent, a champion for the arts and former member of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development;  Suzy Chavez, a local painter whose decorative murals and “Welcome to Chelsea” signs can be seen in key locations throughout the city; Marianne Ramos, a self-taught “outsider artist” and longtime Chelsea resident who serves as Program Coordinator for the Chelsea Senior Center; and Alex Train, artist and Assistant Director of the Department of Planning and Development for the City of Chelsea.

The judging panel selected three winning images in four categories along with a Best in Show award. They also nominated images for the public to select a People’s Choice winner. Voting for People’s Choice is now open through July 31 at  https://tinyurl.com/ChelseaPeoplesChoice.

Rogers is a photographer who lives in Everett, though her backyard is actually in Chelsea. She attended Monserrat College, and is the founder of Katy Rogers Photography. She works for the Record, and its sister publications in Everett, Charlestown and Revere.

All of the winning images will be reproduced in large print format and will be on public display this fall at Gallery 456, the storefront gallery at 456 Broadway. A community reception will be scheduled in September for the public to meet and celebrate with the photographers. At the conclusion of the exhibit, the winners will take home their high-quality, framed images with the Best in Show and People’s Choice winners receiving additional prizes.

Winners

Best in Show

  • Sunrise Over the Cemetery by Aaron Kraemer

Local Business

  • From Chelsea to Boston by Isaac Subillaga
  • Happy Your-Day! by Teri Weidner
  • Soldiers Home by Deb Cronin

People of Chelsea

  • Maggie and William by Katy Rogers
  • Hero by Deb Cronin
  • Come Together by Katy Rogers

Community

  • Chelsea Community Gardening by Katy Rogers
  • Morning at the Community Rail by Aaron Kraemer
  • Diversity: Chelsea’s Middle Name by Teri Weidner

Chelsea, Past and Present

  • Sunrise Over the Cemetery by Aaron Kraemer
  • Chelsea Winter Storm by Joe Makarski
  • Abandonment Issues by Isaac Subillaga

Read More

Controversial Parking Plan Gets Tabled at Council, Still a Victory for Vidot

Controversial Parking Plan Gets Tabled at Council, Still a Victory for Vidot

After many hours of meetings and dozens of discussions, a parking plan putting put forth by Council President Damali Vidot has been tabled by a vote of 6-4.

But within that vote was the promise by City Manager Tom Ambrosino to do a comprehensive parking study that would focus on resident needs and be done by this fall.

“Sometimes, you put things forth knowing you won’t get support; but as an opportunity to allow councilors to show where they stand to their constituency for when Election season comes,” said Vidot after the vote Monday night. “The parking ordinance served its purpose by initiating conversation and the City finally getting a comprehensive parking study going. It’s a win-win for the people of Chelsea.”

Vidot’s plan would have applied to developers who asked to waive more than 10 percent of the required parking under the zoning ordinances. Those that do ask for such relief would then be required to put in apartment leases that residents of the development could not apply for or receive City residential parking stickers.

One of the main problems with many developments, it has been explained, is that they waive the parking requirements with the assumption that residents won’t utilize cars. However, Vidot and other councillors have said that it isn’t the case, and resident parking is being taken up by those in new developments with nowhere to park.

By precluding the parking stickers for those who have sought relief for more than 10 percent of parking, Vidot hoped to open up spaces for existing residents.

“We have a serious problem with parking,” she said. “That’s one reason I became a city councilor…I’m not sure if this is the best thing personally. I speak to residents and they say it is, but I speak to businesses and non-profits who are in the development world and they say not to do it. I was elected by the residents, so I say yes to this.”

Many, however, had grave concerns that it would squash new development.

“I do speak in opposition to the amendment as proposed,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “I understand the sentiment, but the 10 percent figure will surely hamper out ability to improve the downtown and do one thing this Council is intent on doing and that’s building more affordable housing. I ask that you consider deferring action until we finish any parking study.”

Councillor Leo Robinson said he could not support the matter.

“I have concerns about how we’re going about this,” he said. “We’re in the process of finishing a parking study. At this point, I think we should be able to work on a study first.”

Those voting for the parking plan were Vidot, Enio Lopez, Bob Bishop, and Giovanni Recupero.

Those voting to table the matter were Yamir Rodriguez, Calvin Brown, Luis Tejada, Leo Robinson, Joe Perlatonda, and Judith Garcia.

Read More

Eastern Avenue/Broadway Signal: To Fix It, or Not to Fix It

Eastern Avenue/Broadway Signal: To Fix It, or Not to Fix It

The blinking signals at the corner of Eastern Avenue and Broadway have not functioned for years, but after some recent repairs, they are close to being fixed now.

The question, though, has become whether or not the City really wants to get them working.

“The constraint on operating the lights has not just been the control box,” read a letter from City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “Rather, there has been real concern that having the lights fully functioning on the typical green, yellow, and red sequence will adversely impact the flow of traffic. Because it has been so long since the lights have functioned in that fashion, I cannot opine of the legitimacy of that concern.”

Two years ago, the City Council approved money to fix the control box on the lights. That work was completed, and now a small $2,000 expenditure is all that stands in the way of another working traffic light.

That said, the flow of traffic at the intersection is fairly smooth, though there is quite a bit of confusion for those coming onto Broadway from Clinton Street.

Ambrosino said the Council should make the decision, but he recommends a pilot program for 30 to 60 days to see if a functioning lights helps matters or hurts them.

He also suggested upgrading the lights to a sophisticated system using smart systems, cameras and sensors that can automatically change the timing of the light based on traffic volumes. Those types of signals have been approved by the Council for the Williams Street corridor.

He said if there is more development on the Creek, these advanced lights might be in order.

“I do believe that, if any further development is to occur at either the Forbes site or the old Midas site, an upgrade to a smart intersection at this location will be an essential precondition to such development,” he said.

A proposal is expected in the fall.

Read More

Sports 06-21-2018

Sports 06-21-2018

Bruins Beat

by Bob Morello

Bruins’ Blades coming to Chelsea

The Boston Bruins will be returning to Massachusetts and New Hampshire libraries this summer to continue their “When You Read, You Score!” reading programs, presented by Velcro Companies. They will be at the Chelsea Public Library (569 Broadway), on Tuesday, July 10th from 2 – 3 p.m.. On Wednesday, June 27, the Bruins will host a kick-off event pairing Bruins Development Camp prospects and local students for games and other reading activities at the Waltham Public Library (735 Main St., Waltham).

2018 marks the ninth year the Bruins will partner with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and the Massachusetts Library System, and the third year partnering with the Children’s Librarians of New Hampshire to support literacy programs and encourage reading among youth across the two states.

Throughout the summer, Bruins Mascot Blades and members of the Bruins promo team will visit libraries across Massachusetts and New Hampshire in an effort to promote youth literacy. At each “When You Read, You Score!” library visit, children and teens will be able to meet and interact with Blades, participate in Bruins arts and crafts, fun backyard games, and have the chance to win official Bruins prizes by competing in hockey trivia.

“Literacy is one of the most important abilities for students to develop and builds a strong foundation for success in life; so we are proud to be working with the Bruins to bring educational and literacy programs to the kids,” said Fraser Cameron, CEO, Velcro Companies. “‘When You Read, You Score!’ is an innovative way to connect with kids and sharpen their reading skills by making learning engaging, exciting and fun outside the classroom.”

To help inspire children and teens to keep reading over the summer, Bruins players, including Patrice Bergeron, ZdenoChara, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask have helped libraries develop a summer reading list that also includes librarian picks for the best hockey books. To see the “Favorite Books of the Boston Bruins” list, visit BostonBruins.com/SummerReading.

Read More

City Expected to Begin Design on Beacham Street in July

City Expected to Begin Design on Beacham Street in July

The City will begin design of a major rehabilitation of Beacham Street in the New England Produce Center area from Spruce Street to the Everett line, said City Planner Alex Train.

That comes due to the fact that the City was just recently awarded an unexpected $3 million grant for the project from the federal Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

Train said the City has proposed a $5 million capital investment in the project for the Fiscal Year 2020 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), giving them $8 million total to complete the project.

He said they will begin as soon as they can.

“We are excited to get this started,” said Train. “We are scheduled to start design and engineering on July 1. We will hopefully break ground on construction July 1, 2019. I expect there would be a three-year construction timeline. During that time and before, we will be coordinating with abutters, residents and businesses.”

The plan includes completely repurposing the roadway from a predominantly industrial truck route to a major automobile/pedestrian/cyclist east-west corridor throughway.

That will mean it will get a new surface, a new roadway, a new sidewalk on one side, a shared-use path on the southerly side with a buffered bike/pedestrian path, stormwater/drainage improvements, new lighting, new street trees, new signals at the intersection of Spruce and Williams Streets.

In addition, Train said they are working with the City of Everett to coordinate the design so that the Everett project matches the Chelsea project.

“They will be mimicking our design so there will be a contiguous and similar cyclable and walkable roadway from Chelsea to Everett,” he said.

Read More

The Top of His Field:Fitness and Nutrition Expert Michael Wood Releases a New Book

The Top of His Field:Fitness and Nutrition Expert Michael Wood Releases a New Book

Michael Wood was a towering presence in the city of Chelsea, a left-handed fireballer in the Chelsea Little League who attended the Shurtleff School with fellow classmates, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash and Boston College graduate Paula Bradley Batchelor, among other notables.

At 6 feet, 5 inches tall, Michael, son of James and Joann Wood, later excelled in the Saint Dominic Savio basketball and baseball programs, helping to lead the Spartan hoop team to the Division 2 state final.

Wood, 57, has stayed in the sports arena, so to speak, building a reputation as a nationally recognized expert in the field of strength and conditioning and nutrition.

Wood is releasing a book that is an accumulation of his 30 years in the personal coaching industry.

“People were always asking me to write a book and I went for it,” said Wood. “Last year we published a book and we now have a 240-page second edition: TBC30: 6 Steps To A Stronger, Healthier You, that will be released in July. It’s basically a six-step plan that I’ve used over the years with my clientele to get them in better shape.”

Wood, 57, has become “a trainer to the stars” during his distinguished career. Chris Lydon, national radio personality, calls Michael, “the Bill Belichick of personal trainers: smart, tough, a scientist, and a motivator.”

Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet says simply, “Thanks for the body.” Well-known actress Lindsay Crouse is also a big fan. Itzhak Pearlman, internationally known violinist, is a long-time client. Steven Tyler, lead singer of Aerosmith, has called upon Wood for his personal training sessions.

Wood also served as assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of Connecticut in 2001 and 2002, working with such All-Americans as Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Swin Cash, and Caron Butler. The director of athletics at that time was former Chelsea basketball great Lew Perkins.

Major publications have showered Wood with lofty praise. Men’s Journal named Michael Wood, “one of the top 100 trainers in America.”

Wood delivers to his many clients a unique step-by-step approach that follows the same nutrition and exercise strategies that have made him one of the most prominent and respected personal trainers in America.

“I teach people how to eat better and how to exercise more efficiently,” said Wood. “This whole approach is to get people over the course of a 30-day plan, called Phase 1, to get their body stimulated, to get them eating the right way, cutting back on their sugar. All these tidbits of information that I’ve learned over the years are in the book.”

Still in excellent shape and capable of dunking a basketball, Wood is very proud of his daughter, Julia, who was a basketball superstar at the Foxboro Regional Charter School and just graduated from Fairfield University, where she competed in Division 1 cross country and track. She is currently working as an emergency medical technician with aspirations to be a physician’s assistant.

Michael’s wife, Robyn Wood, is a teacher and a Hall of Fame inductee at Stoughton High School.

“Robyn started on the basketball team as a freshman in high school, so she was better than me,” jested Wood, displaying the sense of humor that made him so popular among his peers in Chelsea. “I know [former Chelsea resident] Danny O’Callaghan scored 1,000 points at Savio, but I just missed.”

Read More

Forbes Plan Includes Tower:Concerns Over Density Already Voiced

Forbes Plan Includes Tower:Concerns Over Density Already Voiced

The Forbes Lithograph owners have come back to the City with a plan for 700,000 sq. ft. of development and 630 residential units for the 18-plus acre site on Mill Hill – but they still only have one entrance.

The project has yet to be formally filed, but the City has requested that the owners conduct a serious neighborhood information campaign first, which the company has been doing.

The project has been scaled back significantly from its 1.5 million square foot proposal two years ago that included skyscrapers, hotels, restaurants and about 1,000 units of housing.

The current plan would have 630 units, including several units in a 16-story building. The remainder of the units would be in a couple of other smaller buildings. The would be a small amount of commercial space, with retail and office workspace uses.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said it has been scaled back, but the City will not take a stand on it until the company files with the Zoning Board in July.

“It’s significantly less dense than the plan three years ago,” he said. “They can build the units by right as they meeting the density requirement. They will definitely need some zoning relief and the City has encouraged them to together with stakeholders and their parking access plan.”

There is still some question about the access, which comes from one bridge that would be rebuilt. Another access point over the Creek will not be part of the development.

“They explained it was just cost prohibitive with the decrease in units,” he said.

Already GreenRoots has met with them twice and that organization believes that the project is still too much.

“At both meetings, GreenRoots’ staff and members, as well as adjacent residents, voiced concern over the size and density of the project; the impacts on adjacent neighborhoods including on elementary school pedestrians and traffic and public transportation; and how the public access improvements to the Chelsea Creek waterfront would not be welcoming to the community at-large,” said Director Roseann Bongiovanni. “In short, this project must be scaled back significantly. A development in the likeness of Assembly Row cannot be built in a small neighborhood that does not have property access roads into and out of the site.”

Councillor Joe Perlatonda also has numerous concerns about the proposal. He said he has met with the developer, along with Councillor Leo Robinson, recently.

“First of all, there needs to be a two-way access to get in and out of this property which the only way the city would allow this is through a bridge connecting from the site to Rt. 1A, which will cost millions of dollars,” he said. “And what about the cleanup? Do we know if the land is contaminated? Is there a solution for pest control to combat the rodents? How long will this project take?… This will take years to develop even if this gets off the ground.

My fellow councillor and I would like to see a development that would consist of duplexes and single-family homes to keep up with the neighborhood.”

Read More