Lynn officials set development sights on Boston Street corridor


August 2, 2014
By Chris Stevens/The Daily Item

City Councilor Brendan Crighton is hoping to build a vision for what he calls the Boston Street corridor not unlike plans developed for the waterfront and downtown area.

“From Stop & Shop to Flax Pond I see a number of empty businesses that haven’t been replaced,” he told the Economic & Workforce Development Committee.

Crighton said zoning for that area has not been looked at for years and he believes it’s time to bring in an outside consultant.

Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi, who shares jurisdiction of the area with Ward 5 Councilor Dianna Chakoutis, agreed.

“We’ve made great strides with downtown Lynn and the waterfront,” Lozzi said. “We need to move on to other areas.”

Over the last decade city officials have worked to rezone the downtown area to allow for mixed use. The changes brought in 250 new residents as well as jobs. The expansion of the Lynn Community Health Center and the addition of the Visiting Nurse Association coupled with a growing restaurant scene brought over 100 jobs to the downtown area.

A traffic study was also recently conducted to try and determine a better flow.

In terms of the waterfront, Economic Development and Industrial Development Executive Director James Cowdell said a decade ago there was no buzz and no vision, but that has changed. A master plan was developed laying out a clear path for city officials to follow and it has been making progress in aligning reality with the vision, he said.

Although it’s a significantly smaller patch of land, Crighton would like to see the same idea play out on Boston Street.

“It’s a heavily traveled corridor,” he said.

Inspectional Services Director Michael Donovan has raised the zoning issue in the past. Donovan said the entire area is zoned light industrial because years ago that is where the shoe factories sat. The problem with light industrial zoning is that a developer needs a special permit to do anything other than light industrial, he explained.

“To my knowledge the zoning is still the same as it was in 1926,” he said.

Charles Gaeta, who sits on the EDIC board, said there is no consistency to the zoning in the area, which makes it hard to follow.

“We should get on this because there are a lot of vacancies,” he added.

Blockbuster Video went out of business well over two years ago as did Johnny’s Foodmaster and both are still empty along with some smaller storefronts.

Cowdell urged Crighton to invite everyone to the table when he does the study of the area.

“One of the lessons I learned in early 2000 when we rezoned the downtown was to make it an inclusive process,” he said. “When we were done everyone felt they had an ownership.”

Hiring a consultant to coordinate is fine but there should be a lot of public meetings and hearings included in the process as well, Cowdell said.

Local businessman and Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce President Taso Nikolopoulos said the chamber is in total support of the project and suggested Crighton look to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.

Ward 6 Councilor Peter Capano said he believes the study is a great idea.

The committee took a vote to ask Cowdell and EDIC and Gaeta, who is also the Executive Director of the Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development, to look into hiring a consultant, since both organizations have experience in the area.

“In terms of a timeline, I would like to get going on this as soon as possible,” Crighton added.

Chris Stevens can be reached at

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