Riverside Developer Withdraws Project in the Face of Defeat

Many residents of Riverside claimed victory on the much-maligned 42-unit apartment building planned for their neighborhood – at least for now.

Project Attorney James Cipoletta surprisingly withdrew the proposal on Monday night before a large crowd of Riverside neighbors – many against the project and some for it.

“The developers are going to go back and look at a different concept and do a site reassessment,” Cipoletta explained after the withdrawal. “They thought it would be better for everyone – for the developer, for the neighbors and for the City.”

He did not give a timeline for when the developer might come back with an alternate project, though he did say they would be back.

The situation has been going on for months, and residents have been dedicated in attending every meeting in large numbers.

Last month, the matter was supposed to come up for a vote, but was continued due to a dental issue involving Cipoletta.

The situation remained fluid virtually every day until Monday night’s meeting, with councillors lobbying one another and stirring the political cauldron virtually right up until the final hour before the meeting.

Sources said the absence of Councillor Bob Haas and Stephen Reardon did not hurt the anti-development contingent. At least two councillors were reported to have taken the stance of voting against the development, but voting for the withdrawal.

That set the project up for certain defeat.

As it was, the withdrawal vote was 6-3, with Councillors Brian Arrigo, Steven Morabito, and John Powers voting against the withdrawal. Councillors Jessica Giannino, Arthur Guinasso, Ira Novoselsky, Charlie Patch, Richard Penta and Tony Zambuto voted for it.

Not allowing the withdrawal would have sent a strong message and would have prevented the developer from coming back to the Council with any proposal.

“Things are good for now,” said Powers. “Many of the neighbors wanted them to vote down the withdrawal. We came pretty close to having those votes, but we certainly had the votes to vote down the project if it came to a vote. We’ll see what they come back with.”

As it was, many neighbors who led the fight against the project were not happy with the Council for allowing the withdrawal.

“Although the developer withdrew his proposal, the Councilors had an opportunity to send a strong message on behalf of the Riverside residents by voting ‘No’ on his motion to withdraw,” read a letter to the Journal from the LaCentra family of Riverside. “Unfortunately, Councilors Jessica Giannino, Arthur Guinasso, Ira Novoselsky, Charlie Patch, Richard Penta and Tony Zambuto ignored the wishes of more than 80 percent of Riverside residents. We have e-mailed, petitioned, called, and have shown up to every meeting with the expectation that we would be respected and heard by our councillors. We are extremely disappointed that many councillors have failed their constituents in the Riverside and have aligned themselves with a developer who has had a complete disregard for the character of our single-family neighborhood.”

One of the key changes in the project came at the last minute, when last week Cipoletta put in an amendment to the project calling for 10 percent of the units (5 units) be set aside as subsidized affordable housing.

That set neighbors off, apparently.

While Revere’s affordable housing inventory is about 2 percent lower than it should be to prevent non-reviewable affordable housing projects (40B projects), the request was seen as a big negative by many neighbors. For many, it signaled that the project wasn’t being targeted to single professionals and empty nesters, but rather to families that would bring more children to the overcrowded school system.

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