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.”

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Former TND Director Ann Houston to Depart, become CEO of Merged Non-Profit

Former TND Director Ann Houston to Depart, become CEO of Merged Non-Profit

The Neighborhood Developers (TND) announced this week in a release ahead of its 40th Anniversary celebration that long-time Executive Director Ann Houston will be departing to become the new CEO of a new, merged community development corporation.

“TND will honor outgoing Executive Director Ann Houston as she takes on the new role of CEO of Opportunity Communities, where she will continue to provide leadership and vision to TND through this exciting new partnership,” read the announcement.

Houston was not immediately available for comment on the move.

TND declined to comment on the matter as well this week.

The announcement indicated Houston would be the new CEO of Opportunity Communities.

That new collaboration is with Roxbury’s Nuestra Communidad Community Development Corporation (CDC), a partnership between that organization and TND that launched in April.

“In April 2018, we launched a company for back office operations known as Opportunity Communities (OppCo) with a sister organization, The Neighbor Developers (TND), based in Chelsea,” read the website for the new partnership. “This is our newest partnership, designed to achieve better results for the Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan neighborhoods we serve. There is no change to Nuestra’s board, staff, leadership, mission, office, programs, projects, agreements, relationships and commitments to neighbors and local stakeholders.

“This new company allows Nuestra and TND to combine our back office operations and staff,” it continued. “By centralizing our accounting, purchasing, data collection, HR, IT and other management functions, Nuestra can most efficiently deliver high-quality, effective services and programs for Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan.”

Houston has been the face of TND since it planted its flag in the Box District many years ago and built out several blocks of what used to be derelict industrial properties. Using a formula of creating civic awareness in a mixed-income development of subsidized and market-rate housing, TND created a successful model in the Box District.

Since that time, they have developed other properties in Chelsea, including the old American Legion Post that houses homeless veterans in supportive housing. They are currently developing the old French Club into affordable housing.

In year’s past, TND moved into Revere to develop affordable and senior housing there. It has just expanded to Everett, where a proposal is on the table for a large senior housing development there on the former site of St. Therese’s Church campus.

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Chelsea Included in Baker-Polito Administration Opportunity Zone

Chelsea Included in Baker-Polito Administration Opportunity Zone

Gov. Charlie Baker submitted the state’s Opportunity Zone designations to the U.S. Treasury Department today to encourage long-term investment in eligible Massachusetts communities. Created as part of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Opportunity Zone program presents an opportunity for private, tax-free investment into areas of economic need, benefiting both residents living in the zones and private investors.

 Eligible communities include municipalities with state-designated-opportunity zone tracts submitted for federal approval:

Boston

Chelsea

Lynn

Revere

Winthrop

“The opportunity zone program helps leverage private investment in Massachusetts cities and towns and can be a catalyst for job creation and economic activity,” said Gov. Baker. “I look forward to working with our congressional delegation and local officials to support these new economic development opportunities across the Commonwealth.”

The Opportunity Zone program provides a federal tax incentive for taxpayers who reinvest unrealized capital gains into ‘Opportunity Funds,’ which are specialized vehicles dedicated to investing in low-income areas called ‘Opportunity Zones.’ The zones themselves are to be comprised of low-income community census tracts and designated by governors in every state.

Of Massachusetts’ 1,478 census tracts, 581 tracts were determined by the U.S. Department of Treasury to be eligible to be considered for Opportunity Zone designation. Gov. Baker recommended 138 Opportunity Zones, the maximum number for Massachusetts.

The administration engaged municipal leaders and other key stakeholders in the communities with eligible tracts in the development of the state designation process, opening the application process on March 9th.

“As part of a collaborative process with communities, our administration empowered local leaders to nominate eligible tracts they believed would benefit most from this program, resulting in a diverse set of designations across Massachusetts,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “These communities range from small rural towns to Gateway Cities and large urban centers, representing a wealth of opportunities for new investment in the Commonwealth.”

Of the 138 designated tracts submitted for federal approval, 32 tracts are located in the 10 communities with the lowest median family income (MFI) in the state. 48% of the tracts are from “Gateway Cities,” which are municipalities with a population between 35,000 and 250,000, with median household income and rate of educational attainment of bachelor’s degree or greater below the state average. Rural communities were encouraged to participate as well, and they make up 18% of the communities with designated tracts.

Applicant municipalities explained why their nominated tracts offer attractive investment opportunities, what level of planning they had already completed, and key demographic data such as median family income, unemployment, and poverty rates – both in the nominated tract and in the wider community.

“We are committed to helping our cities and towns prepare for and attract investment, and we are enthusiastic about the possibilities represented by the Opportunity Zone program,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “Here in Massachusetts, our communities have proven that planning, site readiness, and community engagement are major factors in successful development. The tracts identified by the nominating communities reflect these characteristics and are worthy of consideration by the federal government.”

The U.S. Treasury has committed to responding to state submissions within 30 days.

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Cottage Street Project First Silver Line-Based, Affordable Housing

Cottage Street Project First Silver Line-Based, Affordable Housing

A 66-unit apartment building looking to be constructed on what is now a vacant, derelict property looks to achieve a lot of firsts – the first Silver Line-based development and the first project to include affordable housing under the City’s new ordinance.

Greg Antonelli is proposing to build the building at 170 Cottage St., and the project has gone through the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) one time, and will head to the Planning Board soon.

The property has long been forgotten, but with the development of the Silver Line, which opens this Saturday, April 21, the property has seen a new luster. While it is has been full of trash in the past and a constant code violator, Antonelli said he hopes to make it something Chelsea can be proud of.

“I think it’s a project that will really be an improvement to that area,” he said. “It’s been vacant 40 years. It attracts litter and illegal dumping. There is a record of code enforcement violations for 10 or 15 years for illegal dumping there.”

The Silver Line, as well, played no small part in his decision.

“That was huge,” he said. “It was very important to the project. It played a big role in my decision because public transportation is very popular now…We believe the Silver Line is going to help with parking, traffic and congestion problems we’re experiencing. We believe the residents of this development will use the Silver Line to get to work and to Boston.”

Antonelli is providing 90 on-site parking spaces as well, and the development has 52 two-bedroom units and 14 one-bedrooms.

One key piece, and another new piece, is it will include 20 percent affordable housing for the 80 percent median income.

It is the first time that a project has come in under the new inclusionary zoning ordinance. That means that 13 or 14 units will be reserved for those who qualify under the affordable housing statutes.

“That’s me giving back to the City,” he said. “I’m not in it for the quick money, but rather a long-term partnership with the City.”

Council President Damali Vidot has gone on record already supporting the project, saying it will develop a problem property.

“There are constant complaints about this lot as a dumping site for construction materials, mattresses and all sorts of trash,” she said. “I’d like to see something developed there, especially something that activates both Cottage and Bellingham Street. Being that this is my neighborhood, I can attest to the huge parking issue in this area. However, this project will only be nine parking spots short and the developer’s proposal to increase the required amount of affordable units from 15 percent to 20 percent is a show of good faith and investment in the community.”

Councilor Enio Lopez has also shown support for the project, and the City has been working with Antonelli on it as well.

Already, they have agreed on a design that will activate both sides of the street, that being Cottage and Bellingham.

After the project makes a stop at the Planning Board, it will go back to the Zoning Board for a vote.

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Potential Wynn Branding Problems Likely to Move into Uncharted Territory

Potential Wynn Branding Problems Likely to Move into Uncharted Territory

One of the biggest questions floating around all of Greater Boston right now regarding the allegations against CEO Steve Wynn is whether or not the casino building here will carry his signature brand name at the top when it opens in 2019 – a brand that has gone from impeccable to potentially tainted in a few day’s time.

Experts in the field of marketing and branding – something that is heavily studied and critically important in today’s business world – are closely watching this case with Wynn.

Locally, Northeastern University Assistant Professor Charn McAllister, who teaches in the Management and Organizational Development Department at Northeastern, said there are so many firsts in this case when it comes to branding.

One of the major issues with the Wynn situation is that the company is heavily tied to the man for whom some seriously negative allegations are being made. The company is tied so heavily that it in fact carries a brand name that is now associated with that negativity.

“I think Steve Wynn in many ways is the heart and soul of Wynn Resorts,” McAllister said. “It’s a cult of personality. When people invest in Wynn, they are investing in Steve Wynn…Five or six months ago, you would expect a company to remove an individual from a position of leadership. How do you do that when the company is the person? Though these are still allegations, it’s like Weinstein in that the allegations were so horrible that the name of the business became poison. When your name is on the building and on everything else, at that point it puts the Board in a very difficult situation.”

That difficult situation comes from the fact that the Board for Wynn – a publicly traded company – has stated in federal filings that the loss of Wynn from their company would mean significant financial losses. Now, they are facing a decision about the loss of Wynn versus the losses from the bad name via the publicity.

“They have already stated in SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) filings that the loss of Steve Wynn would result in major losses to the company, but at the same time you just had a 14 percent drop in your stock price because of Steve Wynn,” he said.

The branding of Wynn has been carefully guarded since the company arrived in Everett. From the local office to the Las Vegas office, the company has been very careful since day one to remain on brand and on message in all communications and imagery. That’s because they have spent decades building the name ‘Wynn’ into an image and vision of luxury and something fun and clean.

The allegations against Wynn now, which he fully denies, are anything but clean and fun. Regardless of their validity or not – or the circumstances of them surfacing – McAllister said today’s court of public opinion is very harsh on a brand.

He said some of the things he will be watching as the investigation moves forward is whether the company has a hard time recruiting new employees as they ramp up for the 2019 opening due to the public perception of the brand.

“The brand integrity is going to be downgraded substantially,” he said. “Recruiting for the company will be harder likely because the new potential candidates may not be so eager to work for the company. It’s not that they are afraid so much of getting assaulted, but the image of the company. Do you want to go home and tell your parents or friends that you work for this brand that is now associated with such bad things?”

McAllister said other things he is watching is how the allegations might be interpreted internationally, since Wynn has locations in Asia as well.

He also said he believes more companies might re-think making their brand the name of a company leader or founder. He said, for example, that everyone knows Jeff Bezos is the leader of Amazon, but the company doesn’t bear his name.

More than anything, McAllister said the unprecedented part of the situation will be whether public perception forces the brand to change. That, of course, is a question that nearly all of Everett is wondering as well.

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CAPIC – Celebrating 50 Years of Community Service – 2017 Highlights

CAPIC – Celebrating 50 Years of Community Service – 2017 Highlights

During 2017, CAPIC celebrated its 50th year as a community action agency.  Since 1967, CAPIC has served as the federal and state designated Community Action Agency for the communities of Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop although in 1965 the City of Chelsea received its first grant from the Office of Economic Opportunity to establish the Chelsea Community Action Council and Community Action Programs Revere Initiative.

Throughout five decades, CAPIC has been both the first stop for people in need, as well as the last stop when other resources have failed. We are problem solvers, always going beyond what is ordinarily expected and achieving the not so possible. As a multi-service community-based organization, CAPIC has provided comprehensive, one-stop anti-poverty services to thousands of individuals and families who seek help. The unique composition of the Board of Directors representing public, private and low-income sectors of the three communities has been our mainstay that ensures consistency and oversight; safeguarding that the basic mission of the organization was always preserved.

Locally, CAPIC has been the front line of defense for persons in need, especially during times of family crises, and natural disaster as first seen in October 1973 when CAPIC was commissioned by FEMA to relocate 200 displaced families from housing after the great conflagration that devastated over a 20 block area of Chelsea and again in February 1978, when during the blizzard, CAPIC provided housing, clothing, food and emergency oil to hundreds of Revere families displaced by flood waters and those who were snow bound. Most recently, on July 28, 2014, CAPIC placed Revere families who were displaced by a tornado in emergency housing and again on June 13, 2017 when a four alarm fire on Taft Street, Revere caused many to be without shelter. Resources were immediately mobilized and together with Revere officials, families were placed in temporary shelters.

Here we are today, a vibrant organization that provides a myriad of life sustaining services to over 15,000 area residents annually. During 2017, CAPIC provided nearly 2,000 at-risk, low-income individuals and families with access to food and basic needs; prevented 33 families from becoming homeless through the utilization of United Way EFSP funds; prevented an additional 23 families from becoming homeless through EOHHS Flex funds for rental assistance; distributed 1,500 winter coats to needy adults and children through a partnership with Anton’s Cleaners Coats for Kids program; distributed donated Christmas/holiday toys to 450 low-income children; provided 50 victims of domestic violence with comprehensive case management, advocacy, and counseling services; and provided 100 street-involved individuals in Chelsea with substance/alcohol related issues with direct comprehensive support service. In addition, CAPIC’s Mobile Outreach Team conducted intensive street outreach in Chelsea to identify and refer street-involved homeless individuals experiencing alcohol/opioid addiction for services which included 50 sober living placements and 40 medical interventions with a volunteer licensed physician.

CAPIC also partnered with MGH on the Merck Foundation: Alliance to Advance Patient-Centered Cancer Care Grant. This is a two-year grant program that works to improve equity by advancing cancer patient-centered care for underserved populations.  In May 2017, CAPIC was designated by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) as the official Continuum of Care -Balance of State Homeless Provider for Chelsea and Revere.  Given this official designation, CAPIC is commissioned to assume responsibility to coordinate homelessness prevention activities for Chelsea and Revere and also coordinate the Annual Point-In-Time Count (in conjunction with DHCD), and organize volunteer efforts for counting unsheltered persons in Chelsea and Revere.  CAPIC also received an FY’17 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the City of Chelsea to enhance access to health care for low-income populations in Chelsea.

In addition, CAPIC helped 3,431 low-income households keep warm during the winter months through the Fuel Assistance Program, as well as provided weatherization and heating efficiency services to 80 households, and replaced and/or repaired a total of 435 inefficient heating systems; provided 400 individuals referred by the Social Security Administration with responsible payee support services; filed tax returns for 192 individuals; and provided over 500 low-income children 0-13 years with Head Start/educational support, child care, after school, and summer camp programming, as well as over 400 families with parenting skills and healthy family development through the Chelsea/Revere Family Network program.  CAPIC Real Estate, Inc. in partnership with CAPIC purchased a 13-unit lodging house at 72 Dehon Street, Revere, in an effort to preserve tenancies through affordable housing.

Our ability to accomplish this work, past and present, is a direct result of those people who have chosen public service as a career and the dedicated members of the Board of Directors and Policy Council. They strive to have a better community, with employment opportunity, safe housing, education, food, clothing and healthcare for everyone. We express our gratitude to our elected and appointed delegation that without their support we could not succeed. There are also the compassionate partners at DHCD and HHS that understand the plight of the poor; there are those in sister organizations whose collaboration and cooperation make our work more effective. Perhaps the greatest asset that we have and sometimes overlook, is our clergy, whose spiritual guidance and prayers have given us the courage and motivation to persevere in an environment where it isn’t popular to be poor.

We have also forged strong alliances with the local police and fire departments and greatly appreciate the support and assistance we receive from the city and town Community Development and Health Departments. Over the years we have relied on our historic alliance with local school departments that have provided us with space for Head Start and After School/Summer Camp programming. Special thanks to former State Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, Representatives RoseLee Vincent and Dan Ryan; and Senators Sal DiDomenico and Joe Boncore for their untiring support for CAPIC throughout the years.

A quote from CAPIC’s third Executive Director: “Progress has not been easy- there have been crises, cutbacks, quarrels, opposition. Yet, when it was most important, we have always closed ranks and worked together, and so accomplished much. Perhaps even more important are our less tangible accomplishments. Because of CAPIC, thousands of Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop residents, especially low-income people, have become aware of their rights and responsibilities, and the value of working together to improve opportunities for all.”

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No Debate Necessary:Strip Club Application Dismissed by ZBA, New Owner Might Look to Other Things

No Debate Necessary:Strip Club Application Dismissed by ZBA, New Owner Might Look to Other Things

By Leah Dearborn and Seth Daniel

In what has been one surprise after another with the Phantom Ventures suit-and-tie strip club proposal, Tuesday night’s events perhaps took the cake – with a new owner of the club now coming into play and the proponents withdrawing their three-year-old proposal at the last minute.

That came, however, after the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) denied the application due to lack of standing.

It was a surprisingly quiet meeting on Tuesday night, despite all the behind the scenes excitement, with representatives of Phantom Ventures failing to make an appearance. The controversial application concerned a Special Permit to establish a nude cabaret and sports bar at 200 Beacham St. – the former site of the King Arthur’s Strip Club.

After addressing the room several times to ask whether a representative of Phantom Ventures was present, Chairman John DePriest announced that the board had received an email earlier in the afternoon requesting withdrawal of the application.

DePriest said the board also received an affidavit from the owner of the property, Demetrios Vardakostas, stating they had been unaware the proposal for the site was submitted. The affidavit clarified that the applicants are no longer tenants of the address at Beacham Street, and that they had been evicted in Chelsea Court last month for non-payment of rent and taxes.

Citing a lack of proper authority to come before the board in the first place, members of the ZBA dismissed the case without further debate from the public.

Another twist in the affair came in that the building was sold late last week, with Everett’s Greg Antonellli now being the new owner.

Antonelli, who owns GTA Landscaping Co., hasn’t revealed what his plans are for the site, but the real estate arm of his business has been buying up a lot of property in the industrial areas of Everett – some of them just on the other side of the Produce Center.

Some in the City said Antonelli may be willing to work with the Phantom proponents to re-apply at his new property, while others said he is considering a different use altogether.

Antonelli said it is too early to discuss any plans for the property, as he has just taken ownership.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he hopes the new owner will consider something different than the nude dancing use.

“I’m pleased that the Zoning Board of Appeals rejected the application,” he said. “Hopefully, the new owner will propose a better use for that site.”

City Councillor Dan Cortell has organized major opposition several times regarding the Phantom application, and he said he was pleasantly surprised by the outcome Tuesday – which was somewhat unexpected.

“A lot of hard work went into this fight that included not just of our City Manager, City Solicitor and staff, Department of Planning and Development and Inspectional Services, but also our volunteer Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Board, Economic Development Board and Licensing Commission as well as the literally hundreds of residents I called upon to support the fight all whom were looking out for the best for the city and its future,” he said. “Some football games end in a spectacular interception or last second score. Others end with a run out the clock ‘kneel down.’  Last night’s ZBA meeting ended with the latter. A win is a win and last night Chelsea put the notorious history that is King Arthur’s behind us. Chelsea is a better and more desirable city for it.”

Member Janice Tatarka said Phantom Ventures could still theoretically re-apply for the permit since the original application never went to a vote.

“They could come back,” said board member Janice Tatarka. “It’s possible.”

What is certain is that the controversial Phantom Ventures application – which resulted in numerous hearing and a Constitutional Court case in federal court – is currently dead. Phantom Ventures had re-submitted their application for Tuesday’s meeting after a Federal Court ruling declared the City’s adult entertainment ordinance unconstitutional earlier this year – a case that resulted from the ZBA denying Phantom’s original application in 2015.

Currently, the ZBA said any nude dancing application had to be fit under the ‘theatre’ use. Phantom Ventures had planned to apply on Tuesday under the ‘Theatre’ use provision – that is until it was learned they had no standing with the owner and the new owner.

Phantom’s ownership, which did not appear before the Board, had no comment on the matter immediately.

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Council Spars Over Instituting Term Limits On Boards, Commissions

Council Spars Over Instituting Term Limits On Boards, Commissions

By Seth Daniel

A move by Councillors Damali Vidot and Enio Lopez supposedly aimed at diversifying the City’s Boards and Commissions was roundly criticized by several Council members Monday night – with Councillor Roy Avellaneda calling the drafters “cowards.”

Vidot said many on Boards and Commissions – such as the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) – have been in their volunteer seats for many years, and by enacting term limits, perhaps those bodies could become more diverse.

“Some of these boards make decisions we as a City Council have no say on and we have to face the residents,” she said. “We have people serving on some of these boards year after year. I respect the work they do, but the City is changing and maybe we need to think about diversifying these boards.”

That set off Councillor Avellaneda, who called the move “cowardly.” He noted that he had a problem with one Board member, former License Commissioner Ken Umemba, and he used the current process of Council oversight to try to remove him. That, however, he said, requires standing up and facing the dirty looks and the bad feelings.

“If you don’t want people on the Board, stand up and say ‘Thank you for your service, we don’t want you. We want someone else.’ This is cowardly. If you don’t have the guts to tell someone you don’t want them on the board to their face, then don’t do it. Standing up and doing that takes guts. It takes guts to say that to someone’s face.

“This is hypocritical,” he continued. “I can’t believe how hypocritical it is…I will fight against this. I will make a stink about this if I have to.”

Avellaneda referred to the process of Council oversight in his comments, which includes the Council having to vote for any appointment or re-appointment to all boards and commissions. The Council can vote down an appointment, which would require the city manager to put a new candidate forth.

Councillor Lopez said he was offended by being called cowardly in putting the idea forward. He said it had nothing to do with that.

“I’m not a coward,” he said. “We did this because we want to see change. Maybe it didn’t happen when you wanted it, but now it’s a different year and a different time. We want to see more people volunteer…We want people who want to come. The idea is to have different faces and not just the people who have been there all the time.”

That said, there isn’t exactly a line out the door waiting to serve on Chelsea’s boards and commissions. Many seats go unfilled, and a number of boards have trouble making a quorum in order to be able to have an official meeting – even critical boards like the Planning Board that can hold up development.

Councillor Giovanni Recupero brought that to everyone’s attention.

“If people don’t want to come serve on these boards, nothing will change,” he said. “The City needs to try to recruit people to sit on these boards. If no one wants to do it, then the people there should do it and I thank them for what they do because no one else wants to.”

Councillor Matt Frank had a good point in citing Chelsea’s history of corruption, and how the boards and commissioners purposely spread out power.

“In the past, too much power was centralized in only a few hands,” he said. “Our boards and commissions system de-centralized the power over all these boards and commissions. If you are proposing something, you might need to go to Economic Development, Zoning, Planning, and the License Commission. That’s a lot of people to go before. There was a time in the City when you had to grease one hand and you got things done. We don’t want to see that again.”

The matter was defeated by a vote of 2-8, with only Vidot and Lopez voting for it.

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Chelsea’s Commitment to Industrial Areas Spurs Major Purchases

Chelsea’s Commitment to Industrial Areas Spurs Major Purchases

By Seth Daniel

Residential is king in today’s development world, with developers vying for land to build luxury apartments where previously no one would have even parked their car.

That means, however, that industrial areas are shrinking or disappearing in the Greater Boston area, and places like Chelsea’s industrial area on Eastern Avenue and Marginal Streets are commanding high prices and great interest from developers intent on grabbing committed industrial property before it disappers.

That couldn’t be more true in Chelsea, where industrial/commercial properties are commanding a premium after several recent notable sales, and major developers from the region are scooping them up before it’s too late.

On Eastern Avenue, National Development – a well-known development company with major holdings in Boston, including the trendy new residential Ink Block development – has purchased 130 Eastern Ave. for $10 million in August from the Cohen Family, according to property records.

Pending a zoning variance, they plan to demolish the entire existing 38,000 sq. ft. warehouse on the seven-acre site.

Ted Tye of National Development said they hope to start construction on the new 32-foot clear height building in late 2017 upon completing final designs and receiving all the permits and approvals. They expect construction to conclude  in fall 2018.

Tye said they have one tenant for the new property, but that tenant hasn’t been disclosed yet.

“There is an increasing demand in Greater Boston for quality distribution space close to Boston,” said Tye. “Chelsea is ideally located and has been great to work with on expanding the City’s commercial base.”

Part of the certainty comes from the fact, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said, that Chelsea has committed itself to keeping things industrial – unlike other areas, such as Everett’s Lower Broadway area by Wynn Boston Harbor casino where all bets against residential creeping in are off right now.

“I think we have made a commitment to see industrial areas that are now industrial to remain industrial and that these areas are relatively important to the City,” he said. “We have plenty of areas for residential expansion, including the Forbes site. I think we’re committed to retaining a vibrant industrial district. Chelsea historically has done a great job. We’re not likely to create residential developments in our industrial areas.”

Ambrosino said one thing the City requires is that in the development of these new properties, that they are improved aesthetically a bit. For example, National Development will landscape its property upon completion, and the new LTI Limo Company – which moved from Everett’s Lower Broadway area to Chelsea’s Eastern Avenue this year after being bought out by Wynn – is also going to landscape its property significantly.

“There aren’t a lot of industrial areas in Greater Boston and so this industrial area has become quite desirable,” said Ambrosino.

Meanwhile, just last week, more significant action took place in the district with the sale of two prominent warehouse to the Seyon Group, a Boston commercial development firm with 30 years of experience.

E-mails to Seyon Group were not answered in time for this story, but property records – first reported by Bldup.com – showed that Seyon purchased two warehouses for more $10 million total last week.

They purchased 201 Crescent Ave. from New England Lighting Company, which is closing down, for $3.75 million. New England Lighting bought the warehouse in 2009 for $2.65 million. The building is empty and for lease.

Meanwhile, at the same time, Seyon Group bought 150 Eastern Ave. from O’Brien Realty for $7.475 million. O’Brien also owns 140 Eastern Ave., and it purchased 150 Eastern Ave. in 2015 for just $4 million – nearly doubling their money in two years time.

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Jay Ash is a True Superstar of the Baker Administration

Jay Ash is a True Superstar of the Baker Administration

Among those who spoke at Friday’s check presentation ceremony was Jay Ash, the administration’s Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, and it was plain to see why Jay was the first Cabinet appointee named by Charlie Baker shortly after his election in 2014.

Ash had been the City Manager of Chelsea for over a decade and performed an incredible job in raising that city from the ashes (no pun intended) to the point where it is one of the most vibrant communities in the state and won an All-American City Award under Jay’s tenure.

Jay is a graduate of Chelsea High (as is our Town Council President, Russ Sanford) and Clark University, where he excelled on the basketball court. He not only was articulate, humorous, and convivial, but he displayed a sense of professionalism about his job that transcended politics-as-usual: An understanding of how the legislative process works, coupled with real expertise in the realm of economic development.

The respect with which Jay Ash is held on Beacon Hill was evident in the remarks made by House Speaker Bob DeLeo, who related how he first got to know Jay when Ash was the chief aide to the former House Ways and Means Chairman and Majority Leader Richie Voke — and how obvious it was at that time that Jay Ash was a young man who was destined for big things.

It truly was a privilege to see Jay Ash in action, so to speak, and to realize that the entire Commonwealth is the beneficiary of such a dedicated public servant who truly wants to see our state become the best that it can be.

We’re fortunate that a person of Jay Ash’s caliber is working for the citizens of our state and we look forward to even bigger things from him in the future.

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