A driving force – City receives federal funds for Wonderland garage project

A parking garage has probably never drawn such accolades as it did Monday when officials gathered at Wonderland to celebrate a parking garage Stimulus award, but then again, it isn’t any ordinary garage.

With Congressman Ed Markey (D-Malden) and Gov. Deval Patrick (D-Milton), as well as a cadre of other state officials and bureaucrats, Mayor Tom Ambrosino filled in the media on why the Wonderland garage deserved $22.7 million in federal Stimulus funds.

“Not only is this a parking garage project, but also it is the catalyst for a huge development on the other side of the station,” he said while standing in front of the North Shore Road entrance to Wonderland Station. “For 10 years or more we’ve been striving to develop that into more than just surface parking … For all that time, we’ve been stuck in trying to move the surface parking, which has to be done before any development can occur. This parking garage will solve that problem and enable that development to go forward.”

The development is the $500 million Waterfront Square project proposed by designated developer EuroVest, which is owned by Revere resident Joe DiGangi.

The project includes several public improvements to the station, as well as a hotel, an office building and multiple residential buildings running along Ocean Avenue.

It is a project that many believe will change Revere Beach forever.

Others in the audience agreed.

“I see the potential for a vibrant neighborhood and I see the garage as a major step towards that,” said Speaker of the House Bob DeLeo (D-Winthrop).

Said Markey, “We will look back in 30 or 40 years at this and realize it was the pivotal moment in this city.”

Others who spoke included State Sen. Anthony Petruccelli (D-East Boston), Sen. Anthony Galluccio (D-Cambridge) and Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein (D-Revere).

Several City Councillors and School Committee members from Revere were also in attendance.

Gov. Deval Patrick stressed that the project would create jobs more than anything else.

“The best and fastest way to revive this economy is with a job,” he said. “This construction project will create hundreds of construction jobs starting in calendar year 2010.”

When pressed by the media about just how many jobs it would create, he curtly said, “Many.”

A second later, he came to the podium and said he wished to clarify himself.

“I’m not going to give a definitive number here today because if I say it will create 300 jobs and it turns out to be 299, then that will be the headline the very next day,” he said, again saying it would create a lot of jobs.

The 9-story, 1,900 parking space Wonderland garage will officially cost around $50 million.

In addition to the Stimulus money, the garage will get $13 million in state earmarks and grants, and the MBTA will bond another $11.3 million.

The Monday press conference was hastily arranged late last week, as the Wonderland project had barely got a mention for the last couple weeks. Many postulated the press conference was called by the Governor’s Office to defray criticism over the Stimulus awarding of $9 million to Patriots owner Robert Kraft to build a footbridge, an award that Gov. Patrick took back last week.

Whatever the reasoning may be, the press conference confirmed that Revere will keep its share of the pie.

“I’ve got it all confirmed in writing,” said the mayor last week. “I never get excited about these things until I have it in writing.”

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