Positive Developments in Lynn


November 2, 2016
By Thomas Grillo /The Daily Item

There’s lots of commercial development going on in the city.

That was James Cowdell’s message to the city council’s Economic and Workforce Committee on Tuesday night.

But before the presentation began, City Councilor-at-Large Buzzy Barton had these words for the executive director of the Lynn Economic Development & Industrial Corp., (EDIC) the city’s development bank, “We don’t want to hear any bull, we just want to find out when you’re going to put a shovel in the ground.”  

After some laughter, Cowdell outlined a handful of projects totaling more than $200 million that are expected to break ground, one already underway and some to launch as early as next spring.

Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Executive Director James M. Cowdell


Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Executive Director James M. Cowdell

He started with the transformation of the former Arnold Stationery Building at 33 Central Square into eight condominiums for artists. The 10,896-square-foot condemned building had been vacant for years until the nonprofit redevelopment agency and the Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development invested $1.8 million to turn the five-story building into loft-style condominiums.

Seven of the units have sold in the $150,000 to $170,000 range with the last unit expected to close next month. The first floor will feature an art gallery and is expected to fuel an economic spin-off.

“We are really proud of this and it was a big investment for us,” Cowdell said.

The former Beacon Chevrolet site on the North Harbor is an $80 million investment which will feature 348 apartments with sweeping water and city views. The EDIC is working with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation to build a boardwalk to the nearby ferry. The project needs just two permits before they put a shovel in the ground next June, Cowdell said.

In the downtown, work is underway at 23 Central St., known better as the Flatiron Building. Quincy-based MG2, formerly the Mayo Group, is converting the former office building in the downtown into 49 market rate apartments. That $12 million project is expected to be completed by next spring.

Two leases have been signed for the first floor. The commercial space will include The Brew, an upscale coffee shop, and a build-your-own pizza shop dubbed Pie & Pint that will also offer as many as two dozen micro-brewed beers.

“These really fit in perfectly with the downtown,” he said. Cowdell then turned his attention to the South Harbor site owned by Joseph O’Donnell. The founder of Boston Culinary Group and Belmont Capital in Cambridge is investing $69 million to develop a 17-acre waterfront site that will include a four-story wood frame apartment building that will house 248 units in the first phase of the project.

“This property has problems associated with it, but the Lynn Economic Advancement and Development (LEAD) Team has been working to solve them,” he said. “There are designated federal wetlands on the parcel so there are restrictions on where you can place the building. There are a few big hurdles, but we are getting to the point where it is doable.”

Construction of the new Market Basket at the General Electric Factory of the Future site is underway. Steel can be seen rising at the 84,000-square-foot store that will also house the West Lynn Post Office. The $25 million project will offer 400 jobs to Lynn residents, 75 will be full time. It is expected to open in August.

In addition, there will be $2.5 million in MassWorks money that will be spent for infrastructure and traffic improvements around the supermarket. Bids have been issued and work could begin soon.

“It’s all being coordinated and we’d like to see the infrastructure down by the time the store opens next year,” Cowdell said. “We have been working on this for three years and we are almost there.”

Across from North Shore Community College and two blocks from the commuter rail station, the 70-unit Gateway Residences housing complex is expected to break ground next year on lower Washington Street. The project will include 53 affordable units and represent a $27 million investment in the lower Washington Street area.

“This is changing an entire block in a blighted area,” Cowdell said. “We feel this will be a great project and a lot of affordable units. It was a collaborative effort. The council and city should be very proud.”

Ward 2 Councilor William Trahant and Ward 6 Councilor Peter Capano raised questions about the future of the Lynn ferry that did not sail last summer due to a lack of funding.

In response, Cowdell said the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is putting the finishing touches on a sustainability study.

“When that comes back in the next few weeks, it will tell us how the ferry in Lynn can and should operate,” Cowdell said.

Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

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