Residence Inn Petitions to Expand Property by 68 Rooms

Residence Inn Petitions to Expand Property by 68 Rooms

The Residence Inn by Marriott on Maple Street has petitioned the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to expand their 128-room hotel by another 68 rooms.

The expansion would take place in the existing surface lot to the north of the hotel. The idea would be to create a 200-room dual branded hotel, which is a current direction in the lodging industry.

The expansion would add 28,234 sq. ft. to the existing structure. The majority of the hotel is extended stay rooms now, but there would be 12 non-extended stay rooms created during the expansion, if approved.

A special permit is required for parking because 118 spaces are required, and only 86 are provided. A Site Plan Review process is also required.

The matter has been in front of the ZBA already for a preliminary hearing, and a vote on the the project is expected at this month’s meeting.

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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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Chelsea Ready for Complete Stadium Renovation

Chelsea Ready for Complete Stadium Renovation

The City and the School Department are preparing to begin construction on a full renovation project of the Chelsea Memorial Stadium, putting down a new turf field and a new track.

Gerry McCue of the School Department said they will begin replacement of the field and track at the end of May.

“We have a synthetic turf field at the high school and it’s at the end of it useful life,” he said. “It was installed 17 years ago. They don’t last forever and it’s time to think about a new field. We’ve been working with the City because the cost was so high and we need to have it in the Capital Improvement Plan. We found at the same time the track was in desperate need of repair as well.”

After meeting with the Planning Department and stakeholders, such as the Pop Warner and Chelsea High coaches, they began designing the field and track.

As part of the project, they will push the track slightly up towards the Parkway to accommodate lighting in a better fashion. They will also prepare for a Phase 2 to the project, which will be built out later in the summer after being bid in July.

“That Phase 2 will provide new lights outside of the track and a new restroom facility,” he said. “We’re also going to create a Master Plan for our remaining baseball fields and the high school and the Burke Complex.”

That second phase is estimated to cost $900,000, with the lights accounting for $800,000 of that.

Phase 1 has already hit a kink in the chain, though, as bids came in at $2 million for a project with a $1.7 million budget. McCue said they would look at cost-cutting measures.

One of those measures is the addition of a large Chelsea ‘C’ in the middle of the new turf field. That might have to be cut out of the project due to the higher bid. Another possible cut is re-doing the scoreboard, which could be taken up at another time.

A second sand pit for pole vault and long jump is also a possibility.

By next fall, the Stadium should have a whole new look.

“We will probably start the project the day after Memorial Day, but it looks like that could slide into mid-June,” he said. “We were hoping to have everything buttoned up by mid-September, but it could end up being late September. It will be an exciting project to see completed next fall.”

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GreenRoots Kicks-Off Fundraising Effort for Chelsea Walk

GreenRoots Kicks-Off Fundraising Effort for Chelsea Walk

The Chelsea Walk has, for years, been an uninviting walkway between Broadway and the seedier part of the alleyways behind the business district.

This photo is an example sent out by GreenRoots of some things that could be done to the Chelsea Walk to enliven and brighten it up. GreenRoots and the City are embarking on a campaign to match a state grant for funding to spruce up the Walk.

This photo is an example sent out by GreenRoots of some things that could be done to the Chelsea Walk to enliven and brighten it up. GreenRoots and the City are embarking on a campaign to match a state grant for funding to spruce up the Walk.

But as Broadway gets more attention, the City and GreenRoots are looking to make the Chelsea Walk a comfortable centerpiece, rather than a forgotten stretch.

GreenRoots, together with City Manager Tom Ambrosino, announced Friday night that it had received a grant from MassDevelopment to transform the dark and dingy Chelsea Walk into a safe and welcoming destination attraction featuring art, color and lighting.

The grant, however, has a twist.

In order to get the funding, it needs to be matched dollar for dollar through Crowdfunding by June 8. Crowdfunding is when many people contribute towards a project’s success. At present time, fundraising has exceeded $3,000, so GreenRoots has less than 40 days to raise the remaining $17,000.

Chelsea Chamber of Commerce President Sergio Jaramillo said the project is an effort to “ make the area a place where people feel safe.”

He added, “It is all about making our community better.”

City Manager Tom Ambrosino encouraged everyone to contribute where they can.

“To the extent you can donate something, it will really benefit the city,” he said.

The effort follows two fun summer events where GreenRoots and the City developed “park-lets” on Broadway for a day – something that was extremely popular with residents, business owners and the public. The Chelsea Walk effort is another arm of that effort.

GreenRoots is accepting donations towards this project at  www.patronicity.com/chelseawalk.

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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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Forbes Owners Back to Conservation Commission to Start Over

Forbes Owners Back to Conservation Commission to Start Over

The owners of the old Forbes Lithograph property on Chelsea Creek have completed an initial meeting with the Conservation Commission that signals the beginning of a new process on the property.

City Planner John DePriest said the owners, Yihe of China, came before the Con Com at the end of last month for a very technical determination of the property.

“It is the beginning of a process there,” he said.

The Con Com hearing regarded a determination of where environmental areas exist, such as coastal flooding areas, tidal flats and salt marshes. Knowing that, he said, gives them a better idea of where they can construct and what they would possibly have to mitigate.

There were no development plans included in the package filed with the Con Com, and that’s something that everyone is waiting to see.

A few years ago, Yihe filed a gargantuan development project that included skyscrapers, hundreds of residential units, hotels, restaurants, retail facilities, public open space – and all with one entrance and exit into the Mill Hill neighborhood.

It was quickly dispatched despite some of the best architects, engineers and lawyers working on the project.

Since then, nothing has come forward, but it seems like the process is now starting again.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino has said he expects Yihe to file a residential project that is much smaller than the previous project. He said he expects that in the summer.

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Re-Branding of Wynn Boston Harbor Tower Under ‘Serious Consideration’

Re-Branding of Wynn Boston Harbor Tower Under ‘Serious Consideration’

The Wynn Boston Harbor tower hasn’t even reached the top floor, and already the name on the top is under serious reconsideration following the exit of the company’s founder Steve Wynn regarding sexual misconduct allegations.

Responding to comments from Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey, Wynn Boston Harbor president Bob DeSalvio said they are seriously considering changing the name to not include ‘Wynn.’

“We are at this time considering a re-brand of the project and we’ll have an announcement on that at a later date,” said DeSalvio following the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) meeting on March 29.

He said he didn’t have a time frame, though, and it isn’t expected to be announced this week.

“It’s something we are actively considering right now,” he said.

The name change has seemingly been coming for several weeks, but the local Wynn team and the Las Vegas team had all been silent on the issue.

In comments to the Boston Globe in February following his ascension to CEO of the company, Matt Maddox indicated that a sudden re-brand of the company worldwide would be very difficult. He said that while most American customers associate the company with Steve Wynn, many of the Asian customers associate the brand simply with five-star luxury. Changing a well-known name, he said, cannot happen overnight.

The local thinking has been quite different, though, as the project has not been completed. Though the name has contained ‘Wynn’ for the last two years, nothing has yet been affixed to the building – making a change much easier here than elsewhere in the company’s existing portfolio of properties.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) Chair Steve Crosby said he didn’t have a strong opinion on the matter, but said Wynn would do what it best for its business.

“For the record, I’m agnostic on that,” he said. “It’s the first I’ve heard they’re doing that. At the moment, it’s a decision for them to make.”

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City Hosts Final Community Workshop on Re-Imagining Broadway

City Hosts Final Community Workshop on Re-Imagining Broadway

A major decision will be laid out for residents to discuss one last time in two weeks, that being whether the Broadway business district should be one-way or two-way.

The City of Chelsea will be holding its fourth and final community workshop on the Re-imagining Broadway project on Wednesday, March 14 from 6-8 p.m. The workshop will be held at the Williams School (Music Room) at 180 Walnut Street, Chelsea. (The entrance is on Arlington Street.)

At this meeting, the City of Chelsea will present recommendations for improving downtown circulation and enhancing the public space, including redesigned squares, bus hubs, and potential changes in street direction. Public input on the project has helped to shape the concepts that will be presented. The public is encouraged to attend the workshop to provide additional feedback on the proposed concepts.

Re-imagining Broadway is a planning effort, led by the City of Chelsea, to develop strategies to improve access and mobility for all users of downtown. As in many densely-populated urban areas in the region, Chelsea faces persistent traffic and pedestrian circulation challenges, compounded by the fact that the region is served by a 19th Century street network unaccommodating to modern needs.

The plan is focusing not just on a redesign of downtown circulation, but also how that redesign will support businesses, residents, shoppers, workers, students, and all other travelers. The goals of this effort are to: enhance how public space is used and accessed downtown; support existing businesses and encourage new growth; beautify the area and create a consistent, vibrant look; improve overall safety for all users; and establish a circulation pattern that works for people driving, walking, riding bikes, and taking transit.

The current challenge is capturing this energy and harnessing it to benefit residents now and establish Broadway as the center for future generations in our community. Broadway is the place where Chelsea comes together, but its design, look, function, and operation have not kept pace with the rest of Chelsea’s evolution. This is an opportunity to thoughtfully re-create the most visible and locally used part of Chelsea to become a more desirable, navigable, and welcoming destination for residents and visitors alike.

For more information, the public is encouraged to visit the project website:  HYPERLINK “http://www.ReimaginingBroadway.net” www.ReimaginingBroadway.net.

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Viaduct Project Reconsidering Elimination of 5th Street On-Ramp

Viaduct Project Reconsidering Elimination of 5th Street On-Ramp

After a packed meeting last Wednesday, Jan. 24, project managers for the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) said they are reconsidering a recommendation to eliminate the 5th Street onramp as part of the overall three-year Chelsea Viaduct Rehabilitation project.

Joseph Pavao, project manager, said a consultant for MassDOT told them it was believed the onramp could be eliminated. It was believed that the Everett Street ramp and Cottage Street ramp could absorb the traffic.

However, Pavao said they have heard loud and clear from the community that it might not be popular.

“As of right now, it’s still under consideration,” he said. “We have certainly heard the concerns of the local community. We certainly heard it loud and clear at the meeting last week…After an internal study, we thought we could handle any traffic from the closure with the ramps at Cottage Street and Everett Avenue. However, based on community feedback and elected officials, we are reconsidering that and seeing if it’s a prudent thing to do on this project.”

He did say they would definitely be closing the 5th Street onramp at least temporarily for about three or four months in 2020 during the repairs to the superstructure of the Viaduct. Beyond that, though, they are reconsidering the original plan to fully discontinue it.

That reconsideration came chiefly from Councilor Roy Avellaneda and other elected officials and business leaders that sounded off late last year when it was first reported that the ramp might close.

Concerns about traffic coming down Broadway and further clogging Everett Avenue were chief among the comments.

Pavao said they have met with City Manager Tom Ambrosino recently about a mitigation package that was presented to MassDOT late last year. He also said that he hopes to be on the agenda of the next Chelsea City Council meeting to present an official mitigation plan for the project.

The project is now at 25 percent design, and they are hoping to advance it to a final design very soon. He said they hope to have it advertised to bidders this spring.

“We want to advertise this for bids in late March or early April,” he said.

The project includes fixing about 260,000 sq. ft. of structurally deficient decking and superstructure. It doesn’t mean those portions of the viaduct are unsafe, but they certainly need to be repaired.

The project also includes work on the structure below the bridge, improving lighting, improving drainage and making parking lot improvements under the bridge.

They hope to have a contractor on board soon and potentially start in October 2018. The majority of the work will begin in 2019, and that will be on the underneath of the bridge and won’t impact Rt. 1 traffic.

In 2020, that’s when the superstructure work will begin and that will be very cumbersome for traffic.

“That’s when we’ll have permanent lane reductions to two lanes in both directions,” he said.

He said they will use accelerated bridge repair techniques, and they will work 12 weekends (55 hours each weekend) during the project.

It is slated to end in early 2021 with paving and small items.

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St Rose Piazza Christmas Décor Turns Heads on Broadway

St Rose Piazza Christmas Décor Turns Heads on Broadway

By Seth Daniel

Parishioners at the St. Rose Church on Broadway have returned to put up their spectacular Christmas light display this year on the new piazza. The volunteers spent most of 2016 building out the new structure, and this year is the first year they have been able to fully decorate it for Christmas – a tradition that goes back about six years.

Parishioners at the St. Rose Church on Broadway have returned to put up their spectacular Christmas light display this year on the new piazza. The volunteers spent most of 2016 building out the new structure, and this year is the first year they have been able to fully decorate it for Christmas – a tradition that goes back about six years.

An electrified Nativity scene outfitted with a blazingly bright star is just one of the many spectacular light displays on the new piazza to the north of St. Rose Church – a light display that started humbly a few years ago and now has grown to great proportions.

Father Hilario Sanez said the annual display is back this year courtesy of many dedicated parishioners from the Vietnamese-speaking contingent of the Parish.

The 20 or so men dedicate their time year in and year out to build out the bright display for the community and to honor the Christmas holiday.

The effort is now made all the more special due to the piazza patio that is in place to the north of the church – a patio that supports the colorful light display even more than the previous lights.

Cuong Pham led the Vietnamese parishioners in installing the piazza in the summer and fall of 2016. Working late into the night on weekdays and weekends, parishioners built out on a volunteer basis the new structure so that the church could host better get-togethers outside.

Their dedication to the project was unmatched, as many of those working came to volunteer late into the night after working full-day shifts in the construction industry.

Now, after a year break from the Christmas lights, this month the crew of Vietnamese parishioners were back to work putting up the light spectacular.

Within the community, many have commented on the display, and noted that the City’s new Christmas lights compliment the St. Rose display perfectly – making the downtown area much more festive.

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