The air conditioning in the city council chambers didn’t do much to cool the emotions of the neighbors who oppose the development of the former Shaw’s grocery store site on Revere Beach Parkway.
Monday night the city council voted 6-5 to allow TransDel Corp. and Gate Residential Properties to withdraw its original application to build two, six-story buildings with a total of 301 residential units. The developer now has two months to come back with another plan. If the council had voted to deny the request to withdraw the developer would not have been able to come back regarding this site for two years.
The neighbors wanted the council to vote to deny the withdrawl of the plans. But the majority of the council wanted to give developers a second chance to come back to the city with a revised plan. The developers did not attend the meeting Monday night.
Councillors who voted to allow the petition to be withdrawn were: Arthur Guinasso, Joanne McKenna, Ira Novoselsky, Charles Patch, Stephen Reardon and Anthony Zambuto. Voting no were councillors Brian Arrigo, Jessica Giannino, Robert Haas, Steven Morabito, and John Powers.
“I work for you, but I believe in second chances,” said Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna, adding that rumors about waiting until after the election were not true. “I believe they didn’t have their ducks in order.”
“They withdrew because they weren’t ready, it happens all the time. No one is going to ramrod this,” Guinasso said.
Neighbors who spoke on the issue cited traffic, the condition of the creek that runs behind the property, impact on the school system, the height of the buildings, parking and the infrastructure condition on Revere Beach Parkway.
“We can’t even get water on the parkway,” one man said, referring to the recent water main breaks.
“I don’t feel like their partner,” said neighbor David Margossian. “They left us out of it.”
Developers gave at least 10 neighbors and councillor Novoselsky a tour of their apartment building in Chelsea, known as One North, on Monday, Aug. 17. The development is upscale, full of amenties (including doggie daycare) suited for “millenials” who can afford the up to $2,400 rent for a two-bedroom. Of the over 400 residents there are two babies in the building and 90 dogs.
Resident Adrienne Sacco-Maguire said “it’s not the best development for the economic development we say we want.”
She, like many hear about a need for apartments in Revere, but she said there are a lot, including rough 1,900 new units being built around the city.
“I’m all for good development. A hotel, bio tech…with 300 apartments you have 10 percent more students,” said resident Jimmy Mercurio.
John Festa, head of Economic Development for the city, said he has brought in many people to consider development in Revere. He explained the difference between development in Revere and Chelsea is the land values.
“Allow them to withdraw and come back,” Festa said. “If you don’t like it vote it down.”
The crowd started to get riled up when Festa was allowed to talk for more than a minute, which had been the time limit for those speaking from the podium.
“It’s clear Revere wants more economic development,” said Giannino, adding that unfortunately there are three developments going on by the beach but when you walked through the apartment buildings on the beach many of them are vacant.
“We are taking commercial property and turning it into residential,” Arrigo said. “The withdraw came suddenly because people got involved.”
Morabito said there is no room for more residential development. He said the city is 10-square miles, 4.1 is wetlands, leaving 5.9 miles.
“Of that 5.9, 70 percent is residential,” he said.
Reardon said approving the request to withdraw is about fairness. “The project has not been heard,” he said. “Gate Residential has done everything in openness and fairness. They have been fair with us and we have to be fair with them.”
“The proposal is inadequate on several levels…the wetlands and the issue of commercial versus residential. No one is trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.”
He added that the council has to allow the process to be fair for future developers.
“Over building of residential buildings in Revere doesn’t help the city at all,” said Haas.
“Doing what’s right is not popular,” said Zambuto.
Powers said he doesn’t think the Shaw’s site is the appropriate spot for 300 apartments or two. He added that he couldn’t understand how the Hilton Garden was built and it’s not on a major highway. He also pointed to Route 1 and the number of hotels built there.