Lynn looks to once again reimagine its waterfront


April 16, 2018
By Thomas Grillo/The Daily Item

More than a decade after a consultant imagined a redeveloped waterfront with apartments, boutique retail, offices, and hotels, the city is seeking to update the plan.

The Economic Development Industrial Corp., (EDIC) the city’s development bank, has invited proposals from design firms to provide a blueprint for the 300-acre site. Today, most of the site contains giant retailers, and almost a quarter of it remains undeveloped, or contains parking lots.

Photo looking down Lynnway showing all the care dealerships lining the roadway.

The Lynnway (File Photo)

“There has been lots of changes since the original plan was done in 2007,” said James Cowdell, EDIC’s executive director. “Back then, the power lines were a big obstacle to development and they’re gone now, and the North Harbor site is in the final stages of permitting and a shovel will be in the ground this year for a $90 million residential project.”

The bids are due on May 1, and a decision is expected by May 30. The study, which will take nine months to complete will be ready next year and cost more than $75,000.

The consultant will be asked to revisit the zoning and the land use on both sides of the Lynnway; consider industrial, commercial, residential, public, and retail uses. Infrastructure will also be analyzed including roads, rail, pedestrian and bicycle lanes, boat facilities, lighting, and stormwater facilities.

While a crossover exists between a parking lot for North Shore Community College and Lynn Heritage State Park, the potential for new connections will be identified, and options for developing new crossing options will be undertaken. Such plans could include going over or under the Lynnway.

Mayor Thomas M. McGee said while a number of pieces have been put in place along the waterfront, including the ferry, more needs to be done.

“It’s really important to update the master plan and examine where we’ve come and what opportunities lie in the future,” he said.  

City Council President Darren Cyr said one of the many challenges has been that the parcels have dozens of owners. He hopes the revised rules will invite more developers to break ground on a variety of new developments.  

In 2006, the city collaborated with Sasaki Associates to create a master plan to guide development of waterfront parcels. The Watertown-based planner determined that the Lynnway’s waterfront could accommodate 4 million square feet of apartments and condominiums, 2 million square feet of retail, office, hotel and light manufacturing, 5,000 permanent jobs and a whopping $18 million in real estate tax revenues.

Thomas Grillo can be reached at

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