TRANSLATE:

Development Thrived in 2022

January 10, 2023
By Anthony Cammalleri/The Daily Item

(At the end of his first year in office, Mayor Jared Nicholson sat down with The Item’s Editorial Board to discuss his administration’s achievements in 2022. This is the second of a five-part series on the discussion.)

ITEM STAFF

LYNN — 2022 brought sweeping changes to the city’s development — from a groundbreaking inclusionary zoning ordinance, to a string of Lynnway development sites, which the city hopes will attract life sciences companies and workers to Lynn.

Mayor Jared Nicholson said that his administration’s work toward economic development and housing is focused on inclusive growth — in other words, as the city develops financially, so must its residents.

In June, Nicholson put forth an ordinance establishing an affordable housing trust fund in the city. An inclusionary zoning ordinance requiring all new Lynn housing developments followed suit in December.

“ It creates more opportunities for affordable housing for little residents and the way it works is that for any new development that’s coming into the city, it sets aside a percentage of those new units and makes them affordable,” Nicholson said.

Over the course of a year, the city saw $500 million in development project proposals — one of which was the proposed 220-unit housing complex at 811 Lynnway, slated for completion in the spring.

Prior to the city’s zoning amendment, developers at 811 Lynnway gave the affordable housing trust fund around $3 million — a donation that Nicholson said exemplifies the kind of economic growth the city strives to achieve.

“I see that as sort of a good proof point for this hope that we can continue to grow in a way that benefits the whole city and do it inclusively,” Nicholson said.

The Harbor Park project, in which the city will convert a 33-acre lot of vacant waterside landfill into a public park space, is one of the city’s more prominent public developments. Nicholson said that the decision to develop a waterfront park was made in response to public demand for open space in the area.

“I think we have a great vision for the waterfront, you know, the Harbor Master Plan. And we have been thinking about implementation and doing it in a way where we’re getting feedback along the way and creating opportunities for the whole community to benefit. So it’s been really important to us that the growth that happens on the Lynnway includes open space,” Nicholson said.

As the city grows, Nicholson said that he hopes to attract life sciences companies into the city in the near future. Over the summer, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council upgraded the city to “platinum” readiness to host biotech companies.

Following the city’s new classification, Nicholson partnered with the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation to host a trolley tour of potential sites for life sciences companies to set up shop.

Nicholson said that he expects the former Garelick Farms site at 626 Lynnway, as well as the former General Electric Gear Works site to be among those that he expects to be developed for the life sciences industry within the next few years.

“The Prior Greylock farm site, and that’s very much connected to our conversations about spurring growth that’s connected to the innovation economy in the city,” Nicholson said. “The Gear worksite is another huge opportunity. Some of the work we’re doing for the comprehensive plan includes analysis of specific sites about what could be exciting there.”

The city, Nicholson said, is collaborating with the planning department and the property owners to convert the Gear Works center into a mixed-use site with industrial and residential units.

“We are in conversations around a more mixed use type development that includes commercial and industrial as well as residential. That’s a collaboration with the owner and connected to this broader conversation we’re having about the opportunity for job growth in the city and balancing the tax base,” Nicholson said. “The next step is for our planning team and the consultants that they’ve hired to do the comprehensive plan, looking at that site specifically.”

Nicholson said that by growing economically, while taking necessary steps to include residents in that growth, he hopes to attract business to the city.

“I think the hope is that we will show folks that we’re prepared for that growth, and so our residents will see that we’re doing it the right way, and so developers will see that this is a great place to do business and will continue to invest,” Nicholson said.

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