Lynnway housing plan provides Beacon of hope


March 9, 2016
By Bridget Turcotte/The Daily Item

City Council members voted to amend a regulation that will comply with plans for a waterfront housing development proposed for the former site of Beacon Chevrolet.

A public hearing was held to amend a zoning ordinance regulating multi-family high rise buildings in several of the waterfront districts Tuesday night. The decision affects the project proposed for the property, which has been vacant for 30 years.

Minco Development and Arrowstreet first presented definitive plans for the primarily waterfront land to the city last month. The mixed-use development will be primarily residential and will be comprised of 348 apartments, which will mostly be one- and two-bedroom units.

image of lynn city hall


There will be 1.3 parking spaces per unit. Each of the parking spaces were proposed to be 8.5 feet wide, rather than the 9 feet required under zoning. The ordinance also requires 1.5 parking spaces per unit or 522 total spaces. The project, as planned, includes a total of 458 spaces.

The zoning ordinance requires that 75 percent of the first floor of new developments within the Waterfront Growth District be devoted to retail or office space. The project, as planned, does not meet this requirement.

“The developers come to us today for minor changes,” said Council President Dan Cahill. “What we’re trying to do is set a tone that we’re willing to make small, minor changes. (We’re) changing the width of parking spaces by half of a foot.”

The cost of the project is estimated to be upwards of $80 to $90 million. It will produce $1.3 million in taxes on an annual basis.

Several residents attended the hearing to speak in opposition of the amendment with concerns of how it could affect lower income residents, parking and the potential for retail space.

“If you stood on the roof, you’d have a beautiful view,” said Jim Cowdell, executive director of Economic Development and Industrial Corporation. “We have fast food restaurants and car dealerships (in that area). We can do better than that.”

“A report will show we are at 35 percent of affordable housing,” he said. “We have done our fair share.”

The development will also include the installation of a boardwalk.

“You will be able to go out there with your family and enjoy that open area,” he said. “This really and truly is the first development to come forward and say ‘we agree with your vision.”

“I want to support moving forward with this,” said Councilor Peter Capano.

“This is an $80 million dollar project,” said Councilor Darren Cyr. “There could be 20 to 30 projects of this size. We’re talking about tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the Lynnway.”

Cyr said the development will also serve as an opportunity to bring jobs to the Lynnway.

“That’s how Lynn is going to benefit,” he said. “This is a huge opportunity I can’t see us passing up.”

“It’s exciting to hear that one phase of a very large portion of our waterfront is going to finally come to fruition,” said Councilor Wayne Lozzi. “We can’t afford to be indecisive. We need to move forward with this. I’m very much in favor of this and I’m very excited to see it move forward.”

Cahill said reducing commercial space fits with the need for residents to come downtown to utilize coffee shops, dry cleaners and restaurants rather than staying within the development.

“In Lynn, we have a money issue,” he said. “Our costs are going faster than our tax revenues. We’ve had a 2,000 student increase in our schools. We’re having a number of families move into the city. We can’t afford to keep up.

“If you can’t keep up with public safety and schools, nobody is going to want to live here,” he said. “These small changes will make great profits to the city.

“This is quite possibly a pivotal moment for the city of Lynn,” Cahill said.

Council members voted unanimously to approve the proposal.

Chestnut Street Realty Trust also requested a permit to construct a two-story addition to a property located at 522-538 Chestnut St., which is located in the Business District. The addition would include 10 residential units above stores already in existence at the location.

Three one-bedroom units would be located on the second floor and three on the third floor for a total of six one-bedroom units. Each floor would also have two two-bedroom units.

Because of the property’s location at the center of the city, concerns were raised by abutting neighbors regarding how the project could affect parking.

In the site plan presented by attorney Samuel A. Vitali, the project would include 37 parking spaces.

Vitali submitted a petition, signed by several neighbors and abutters, stating that they are in favor of the development.

Lozzi suggested that the council postpone a decision until a report is given by the Lynn Housing Authority on whether or not there is sufficient housing in Lynn.

“Second, we’ve heard from a direct abutter who has concerns,” he said.

Council members voted to table to item and address it at a later meeting.

Bridget Turcotte can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.


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