Vacant 'Factory of the Future' site ready for development

March 14, 2012
By Chris Moulton/The Daily Item

City officials said General Electric Co. executives believe 85 percent of the company’s 22-acre, vacant site in West Lynn — which once included the former factory of the future — has been cleaned enough to be designated as ready for commercial development.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said GE is expected to receive a proposal for the land by April 15. She wouldn’t say what the proposal would include, but GE spokesman Rich Gorham has previously told The Daily Item it will include a new Y.

Kennedy said that redevelopment of the site would be a “milestone.”

“It’s been vacant for 25 years, to this point nothing has gotten going there,” Kennedy said Tuesday afternoon following a meeting she and state officials had with GE representatives. “For people of a certain age, for everybody who has driven by the site, to put it to use would be a real pleasure and to see it developed would be a milestone.”

Ward 6 City Councilor Peter Capano, whose ward includes the property, said residents have long believed that nothing would happen at the site after it was left vacant nearly a quarter century ago.

“Being able to get use of this property has been a struggle for a long time,” Capano said. “It’s good news. I’m still a little bit skeptical ...”

GE officials told city officials they expect to get an A3 status on the property, which means it could be developed for anything but residential uses, Kennedy said.

The 22-acre site is bound by Federal Street and Western Avenue, and contains the former Factory of the Future, which GE closed in the mid-1990s. GE installed wells to test and treat groundwater at the site in 1991, according to James Cowdell, the executive director of the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation of Lynn.

Kennedy said the 15 percent of the site that needs further cleanup and will not go into A3 status is along Spencer Street and Waterhill Street. She said that there seems to be “a larger concentration of contaminants” in that area.

Cowdell, a West Lynn native, said the city would be looking for large commercial (development) at the site.

“When you look at that neighborhood, there’s enough homes in that area, we absolutely can come up with a commercial development that would be done right,” he said. “The neighborhood is congested. There are traffic issues that we could work on — there’s enough room for development and still have green space.”

State Rep. Donald Wong, R-Saugus, said the meeting — which included representatives from the city’s federal and state delegations — demonstrated the commitment to improving downtown Lynn.

“I think it will help redeveloping the downtown area because it’s a big parcel of land that is now nothing,” he said after the meeting. “This is one of the great things about Lynn … we’re all working together on this project and everyone’s pushing forward.”

Gorham agreed.

“We look at it as positive progress, and we think that the initiative is heading in the right direction in terms of finding a definitive redevelopment option for the site,” Gorham said Tuesday. “All signs point in the right direction and certainly (the) results revealed today were positive all around, and should lead to the hopeful redevelopment and reuse of site at some point.”

Kennedy said that the city would reconvene the groups at Tuesday’s meeting in May after GE reviews the redevelopment proposal.

“We’ve made significant progress so far and want to keep everyone talking,” she said.

State Rep. Steven M. Walsh, D-Lynn, and state Sen. Thomas McGee, D-Lynn, did not return calls for comment.

Cyrus Moulton can be reached at


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