2019: A Year In The Rear-View Mirror - Numerous Developments In Lynn   


 By Gayla Cawley    Item Live  | December 25, 2019


State and city officials who attended the groundbreaking of the $100 million redevelopment of the former Beacon Chevrolet site in early December spoke of how they anxiously waited 40 years for the project. The future mixed-use development, which will feature 331 market-rate apartments and commercial space, was worth the wait, said James Cowdell, EDIC/Lynn executive director. The groundbreaking at a 14-acre site on the Carroll Parkway that has sat vacant for more than three decades was about more than one project. It was the first major step in what the city envisions for its 305-acre waterfront.

 Following a year’s worth of planning and community meetings, the city’s updated Waterfront Master Plan and Waterfront Open Space Master Plan were approved by the City Council in September. The two plans outline a transformation of the city’s waterfront into residential, commercial, and industrial development and open space.


   “This is a momentous occasion for the city of Lynn,” said Mayor Thomas M. McGee during the groundbreaking celebration at the North Harbor site. “This is the beginning of unlocking the waterfront and converting it to an urban, mixed-use development.” With numerous development projects planned throughout the city, officials have struck a familiar refrain: Lynn’s time has come. That was the message delivered repeatedly in fall 2018 during the last major groundbreaking in the city, which was for a $90 million high-rise luxury apartment building in downtown Lynn. Construction is well underway on the Munroe Street project and is expected to be completed by the middle of next year. All of the city’s planning for the waterfront and downtown is finally paying off, said Cowdell. Zoning has been rewritten in both areas with an eye toward development. Demolition on the former Porthole Restaurant was completed this fall. Developer Patrick McGrath plans to transform the Lynnway site into 48-60 luxury condominiums, a $30-$35 million project which is expected to be completed in the fall of 2021. Developer Charles Patsios has a $500 million plan to transform the former General Electric Co. Gear Works property into a new transit-oriented neighborhood. The development would feature eight residential and commercial buildings on a 65-acre site off the Lynnway with a walkway to the River Works MBTA commuter rail station. A Boston real estate firm, A.W. Perry has long-term plans for a mixed-use development and possibly a hotel on the former Garelick Farms property, but the potential sale of the property has hit a roadblock with the seller, Dean Foods, declaring bankruptcy in November. What’s been described by city officials as “innovative” development is the planned reuse of three city-owned downtown parking lots. The city is seeking to sell the lots to a developer who would build housing on the parcels and double the number of existing parking spaces. City Council President Darren Cyr struck that aforementioned familiar refrain at the North Harbor groundbreaking. He spoke of a conversation he had with the mayor when they were both being sworn into office two years ago, him for the eighth time and McGee for his first term. “We both talked about standing at the doorway of the future of the city of Lynn,” said Cyr. “And in less than two years, we not only opened that door, but we stepped through it. We have this project going, we have Munroe Street going on. Down the street, you have the Porthole, you have Building 19. Lynn is such a happening place. I am so excited to be a part of it, as anybody living here in the city should be.” But not everyone is convinced that the city is investing in the right kind of development. Activists have argued that planned developments lack affordable housing and have taken issue with tax breaks given to both the North Harbor and Munroe Street developers. “We do not oppose development,” reads a flyer that was distributed by Lynn United for Change during the group’s protest of the North Harbor groundbreaking. “We want to see our city grow and improve. But new development should respond to the needs of the majority of Lynn residents, instead of focusing only on the profit of developers.”


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