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.

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Chelsea Man Arrested for Defacing Newly Painted Chelsea Walk Mural

Chelsea Man Arrested for Defacing Newly Painted Chelsea Walk Mural

One bad apple hasn’t spoiled a whole bunch at the Chelsea Walk, where a man was arrested last week for defacing the newly painted mural on the reclaimed Walk.

On Aug. 20, at 2:52 p.m., a CPD officer was flagged down in the area of Luther Place by a male party who stated someone destroyed their property and defaced City property.

The reporting party was a painter hired by the City to paint a mural on the Chelsea Walk. The Walk has been a no-go area for decades, and community members and GreenRoots have staked a claim to the Walk this summer in an effort to make it more inviting.

That has included painting a mural and hosting events there, and some people who have frequented the Walk for nefarious reasons haven’t appreciated the effort.

The officer reviewed a city camera in the area and was able to identify the male subject who committed the vandalism.

The male was located and placed under arrest.

Winston Brown, 51, of 4 Washington Ave., was charged with vandalizing property.

 

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Summertime — and the Livin’ Is Easy

Summertime — and the Livin’ Is Easy

With this past week’s high temperatures and high humidity, those of us who work and live in air conditioned buildings have had a lot to be thankful for.

Even a sojourn to the beach offers no relief from the heat, thanks to the prevailing southwest winds that blow hot air across the sand toward the ocean along our East-facing coastline of the Boston areaÊ

Still, as unbearable as this stretch has been for many people — and let’s not forget that hot weather kills more people than cold — does anyone doubt that in January, all of us will be pining for the heat of early August?

With just three weeks left until the Labor Day weekend, we do not have many more days of summer left. So let’s enjoy our Triple-H weather (hazy, hot, and humid) while we can. In the words of the early-’60s song by the great Nat King Cole:

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

Those days of soda and pretzels and beer

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

You’ll wish that summer could always be here  

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Chelsea Walk Paint Days This Friday, Saturday

Chelsea Walk Paint Days This Friday, Saturday

Prepare for a little color on the Chelsea Walk.

But only if residents turn out to help paint the newfound oasis in the middle of the Broadway business district.

GreenRoots and Chelsea artists Sylvia Lopez Chavez will host two Paint Days of the Walk on Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We hope everyone will join GreenRoots and artist Silvia Lopez Chavez to transform the Chelsea Walk into an area we will all be proud of,” said GreenRoots Director Roseann Bongiovanni.

Phase II of the Walk transformation will begin later this summer with furniture and lighting installations, to be followed by Phase III consisting of art installations on the ceiling of the Chelsea Walk.

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HarborWalk Coming Together this Summer with a Finished Look

HarborWalk Coming Together this Summer with a Finished Look

When most landscaping plans come into shape at a new building, it takes a few years for them to mature.

The HarborWalk along the Mystic River at Encore Boston Harbor is taking shape this summer with about 25 percent of it complete
now. Remarkably, more than half of the trees are already mature at planting, with 55 percent of them 20 feet or taller.

It’s not the case at Encore Boston Harbor, where the new HarborWalk is about 25 percent complete, and the first views reveal trees that are already 20- and 30-feet tall.

“It’s going to look spectacular,” said Greg John of Encore. “This is going to be when you walk on the HarborWalk for the first time, it will look like it’s been there decades and it’s going to be amazing.”

Trees in the new HarborWalk come from all over the country, with many of them coming from upstate New York.

John said there will 800 trees on the site, with many of them up to 30-feet tall already. Some 55 percent will be 20 feet or taller when planted. There will be more than 47,000 shrubs and more than 50,000 flowers when all is said and done.

Four Ficus trees have been hand-picked in California, John said, and they will flank the Popeye sculpture when the casino opens. Those trees will be delivered later this summer.

The Encore HarborWalk is approximately one half-mile long and takes up six acres of the development.

John said it is also noteworthy that the landscaping plan will continue on to the entrance of the site, and then out onto Lower Broadway.

Another interesting piece of the HarborWalk is that John said many are noticing the wildlife return to the shore – an area described as a biological desert by consultants just two years ago.

With the clean-up done on the site, and in the river bottom, life is returning to that “desert.”

“One of the workers took a video of birds diving for fish,” said John. “That happens a lot now and it’s definitely turned things around. Prior to our clean up and remediation, every day contamination leaked into the water. When we cleaned it up, we reversed 100 years of neglect and brought things back to their original conditions. There aren’t too many opportunities to do that – to reverse 100 years of neglect.”

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City’s Façade and Signage Program to Kick Off on July 12

City’s Façade and Signage Program to Kick Off on July 12

The City of Chelsea will begin a downtown façade and signage improvement program in a kick-off meeting on July 12.

Business and property owners in the downtown, as well as other interested parties, are invited to this meeting to learn about the rollout of the program and to meet Nathalia Hermida.

Hermida will be available throughout the summer to provide free design services for signage and façade improvements of downtown properties. During this meeting, Hermida will detail the design process, what assistance she’ll be able to provide and how to engage her services.

Along with responding to inquiries solicited through this meeting, Hermida will also be approaching specific identified properties. Those interested in the program who cannot attend this meeting should contact Mimi Graney, Downtown Coordinator at mgraney@chelseama.gov.

Design consultation with Hermida will be available both in English and in Spanish.

The City of Chelsea Façade and Signage Program meeting will take place on Thursday, July 12, at 8:30 a.m. at Chelsea City Hall, third-floor Committee Room.

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Library Renovations Highlighted by Historic Rotunda Skylight

Library Renovations Highlighted by Historic Rotunda Skylight

The historic rotunda skylight above the circulation desk at the Chelsea Public Library has served for decades as a nice ceiling, but few knew that the elegant egg-shaped ceiling was designed to provide beautiful natural lighting to the striking entrance of the historic library.

Now everyone knows.

The rotunda above the foyer of the library was completed last Friday, June 15, and made a bright showing for patrons when the library opened on a sunny Monday.

Library Director Sarah Jackson said the rotunda is one part of several small, but effective, renovations that have occurred in the last three years at the library – which had been showing its age severely when she took over three years ago.

“The rotunda is original to the 1910 building, so that means it was 108 years old,” she said. “It certainly got its use, but it was time to replace it. The skylight is new and they re-built the entire structure off-site and moved it back on. It was one of the most extensive renovations that company has done. It was structurally deficient and leaked badly. There has been a tarp over it since I’ve been here. It lasted over 100 years and we decided to make it as historically accurate as possible, but with a modern look.

“It is beautiful and they did a beautiful job,” she continued. “It’s nice to have it open with so much natural light coming in, and we might even be able to see the stars in the winter.”

The rotunda was part of a five-year strategic plan for the building that Jackson wrote with her staff and the Library Trustees three years ago.

Two years ago they began putting new carpeting in the areas most heavily traveled.

Last year, they added more carpet and painted the reference and reading rooms, as well as putting in new lighting there.

“It’s really looking like a brand new building at this point, but with the beautiful details and woodwork still included and not touched,” she said. “It was very dim in the reading rooms, but now that’s changed too.”

Additionally, by getting rid of some of the obsolete books, mostly in the reference section, they were able to create new space at the front of the library to make a Teen Section. There, they have included games, magazines and an area with new furniture for teens to hang out and read.

Jackson said it all came together with very little money and was a way to make the old library new again.

“Every time someone walks in the door, there’s something new that we’ve done that they see,” she said. “I don’t like hearing people come in and say it looks exactly like it did when they were a kid. We’ve tried to change that and the skylight is the bright spot certainly. It didn’t take a lot of money, but really the will and desire to get it done.”

  • In addition to the great renovations, the library announced that it will be extending its hours to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays through the summer. Previously, they were only open late on Tuesdays.

“We re-arranged the schedule and made it work,” said Jackson. “We were pretty packed on Tuesday nights, so this opens up another evening for programming in the summer.”

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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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Council Approves Transfers for Rainy Day Funds

Council Approves Transfers for Rainy Day Funds

The Chelsea City Council approved a request from City Manager Tom Ambrosino to clean up and make a big-time deposit into the City’s savings accounts.

The Council approved a $15 million transfer into the Stabilization Fund on Monday night, and also approved a $5 million transfer into a new School Stabilization Fund. At the same time, three old savings accounts were closed out with about $300,000 going into the Stabilization Fund.

The requests came at the behest of Councillor Bob Bishop, who made the requests last month and presided over a committee meeting two weeks ago discussing the matters.

Bishop had indicated that he would like the money in the Stabilization Fund because he believes the City needs to save more money in case of a downturn in the economy. On the background, having the money in the Stabilization Fund gives the Council more control over any spending due to the fact that it requires a two-thirds vote of the Council.

Ambrosino said he supported both transfers and believed that the School Fund was a wise idea given that there are several projects coming up on the City’s schools.

All of them, he said, are in the Capital Improvement Plan.

In the same financial vein, the Council approved the final $3 million payment on the Clark Avenue Middle School project. The City has been paying cash wherever it can on the project – which is still under construction until this summer – to save money on interest payments accrued from having to borrow.

Part of the project is also funded by state reimbursements.

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