The City’s Chelsea
Prospers initiative has been working behind the scenes for months – often
hinting that something fun is coming – and last week they unveiled the Chelsea
Night Market, the newest, biggest plan yet to enliven the downtown district.
Director Mimi Graney has
been working with Chelsea native Edwardo Chacon, of Jukebox Events, to come up
with a summer gathering in the parking lot behind the Chelsea Walk – a ‘Night
Market’ that would take place five times on Saturdays in the summer.
“This is going to be a
reflection of the City in its first year,” said Graney. “As it grows more
popular, you’re going to see the abutting cities like East Boston, Everett and
Revere coming. We want vendors here to be Chelsea residents. We want artists
and performers to be Chelsea residents. We do want to mix it up too. The Night
Market is for the City of Chelsea and for residents.”
The idea was also
championed during a Chelsea Prospers meeting on Feb. 6 by Edwardo Chacon.
Chacon grew up in Chelsea and graduated from Chelsea High School. After that,
he went to college in Florida and then lived in Los Angeles for many years,
doing corporate marketing events with big budgets.
And every time he
returned to Chelsea, he said he could picture some sort of hip, fun market
taking place in his hometown.
Now, having returned to
Chelsea a year ago, he decided to try to help make it happen.
“I always came back and
felt like something like I was doing elsewhere could really happen in Chelsea,”
he said. “I would look at the city and just feel that Chelsea had the right
atmosphere to do these things too and one year ago I moved back and felt like I
had to try. My goal is to do the same things I was doing elsewhere in Chelsea.
I feel Chelsea is a city that’s perfectly located for this and the people
deserve it. They would love it and be filled with a sense of excitement.”
The layout of the event
would be in the City parking lot behind the Chelsea Walk. There would be a
stage for performances, vendor booths in the middle, places for food and an art
installation in the back end. In the future, next year hopefully, the
initiative hopes of have a beer garden in the back end. However, Graney said
they discovered that the laws against public drinking are too strict and
couldn’t be changed in time to accommodate this year’s market.
Many in the audience,
however, were very excited about the idea of a beer garden and talked for some
time about how to make it happen. However, Graney said it is out for this year,
but she did say the enthusiasm in the room for a beer garden would help for
changing the ordinances so next year one could be put in the mix.
Graney said they hope to
have fire jugglers, creative lighting and artists of all kinds. The
entertainment would vary, with the times for the market being from 7-10 p.m.
The tentative dates are
June 8, July 13, Aug. 10, Sept. 21, and Oct. 5.
The first one on June 8,
Graney said, would have a graduation theme since the next day is graduation.
“It’s going to be a
pre-celebration for the high school senior class,” she said. “We have baby
pictures of all of the kids and an artist is creating a collage . There will be
performers from the class and they are really going to be our ambassadors.”
Vendors would be selling
new and used items, and it would be highly curated and very unique. There would
also be service oriented vendors like henna tattoo and chair massage. The food
would be hot and ready to eat street food using BBQ grills and such instead of
“It would be scaled for an intimate, community oriented atmosphere,” read
Ask 100 people where the Mill Hill
neighborhood separates from the Mill Creek neighborhood and one would probably
get 100 different answers.
Neighborhoods in Chelsea have been loosely
defined for decades, with some not even named at all, but now Downtown
Coordinator Mimi Graney is looking to residents of Chelsea to define the City’s
neighborhoods more precisely.
“It came up because City Planner Karl Allen
has been working on a project by the Produce Center and he kept calling it West
Chelsea,” she said. “Every time he did that, people would laugh at it. It
brought up the question as to what do you call that area. It was the same thing
for the Walnut Street Synagogue area. Then you have people talking about
Prattville. We decided to try to figure out what you call the various
neighborhoods of Chelsea.”
That started with a query of the Chel-Yea
group last month, and during that event and with online follow ups, Graney said
she got very impassioned responses.
People, she said, took it very seriously.
“Several people said everything was just
Chelsea, but others had strong opinions about Admiral’s Hill and Prattville,”
she said. “It has solicited a lot of interested conversations.”
Graney has produced a map with suggested
boundaries and names. So far, they have included Prattville, Mayor’s Row,
Chelsea High, Addison-Orange, Soldiers’ Home/Powderhorn Hill, Cary Square, Mill
Creek, Mill Hill, Spencer Avenue, Eastern Ave Industrial Area, Box District,
Bellingham Hill, Salt Piles, Waterfront, Downtown (including Chelsea Square and
Bellingham Square), Williams School, Carter Park, Mystic Mall, Produce District
and Admiral’s Hill.
It was difficult, she said, to find the real
boundaries of the Soldiers’ Home neighborhood versus Cary Square, she said, and
many said the Spencer Avenue area should be called Upper Broadway. Mill Creek,
on the other hand, has been confused in some ways with the Parkway Plaza.
She said the exercise is one that moves
beyond the fun of talking about it, and moving towards making it a place.
“The legacy of the fire in the Mystic Mall
area sort of upended most boundaries there,” she said. “People are
uncomfortable with the area beyond Carter Park and Chelsea High area. If it
doesn’t have a name, it becomes this no man’s land. Naming a place has a power
to it. I’m hoping people in these areas claim that power in that naming.”
Graney said they
will continue to take input on the neighborhood boundaries, and will likely
present something to the community in the near future.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino and Downtown Coordinator Mimi Graney are moving forward with the idea that the former Salvation Army Store on Broadway can be the catalyst for the entire block both in the future and in the present.
In his State of the City Address on Monday, Ambrosino laid out a plan for the building and said, now that the City owns it, they plan to move forward soon to seek proposals from developers for a mixed-use redevelopment with a major affordable housing component.
“Although the particulars of that development are unknown at this point, it will definitely include activation of the streetscape and affordable housing,” he said. “I really believe the redevelopment of the Salvation Army site could the spark for the transformation of that block between Fifth and Fourth Street.”
Meanwhile, Graney has been busy making temporary renovations to turn the old store into a temporary gallery, something being installed right now.
The exterior will be cleaned up and temporary walls and new lighting will be installed to show off rotating art exhibits. The first show scheduled is letterpress prints from middle school students of English teacher Lindsey Horowitz and art teacher Jennifer Porto of the Eugene Wright Science and Technology Academy.
Those students are composing poems about Chelsea and creating posters and other media of words and images. Chelsea artists interested in exhibiting in this space should contact Mimi Graney at email@example.com.
Meanwhile, for the future of that block, Ambrosino said Graney is working to land a very significant grant from MassDevelopment for the block.
“For the last several months, our Downtown Coordinator has been working with the Chamber, business owners and property managers on Broadway on a grant application to MassDevelopment to help us transform the block between Fifth and Fourth St. on Broadway,” Ambrosino said. “We’ll know for sure in a matter of weeks whether we are selected for this Transformative District Initiative Grant, but we are certainly confident in our chances. And, regardless, we now have a committed team to help us tackle the challenges in that block.”
The initial Chelsea Lunch initiative kicked off on the City Hall Lawn on Wednesday, July 12, at noon, and was a hit. While rain threatened the event which takes place every week on Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m. – it held off and residents and business owners filed to the event. Downtown Coordinator Mimi Graney said it was a great mix of residents and area workers. Food provider Rhythm N Wraps sold out of their offerings by 1:30 p.m.
“There were more than a few smiles and folks said they were excited to attend again next week,” said Graney.
The Chelsea Lunch Marketplace offers food, but also informational booths, small retailers and other amenities.