By Sue Ellen Woodcock
With a vote of 8-3 the City Council approved a new development of an extended-stay hotel and apartments at 205 Revere Beach Parkway, the former site of a Shaw’s grocery store.
The project is slated to include a 132-room extended-stay hotel and 195 apartments. As a result of the project, more than $3.6 million is earmarked in state grants for water infrastructure work on Revere Beach Parkway. All total, over a five-year period, the city will see more than $12 million in taxes and fees.
At the August 22, Council meeting, the developers proposed the project and the council tabled it with a vote of 7-4 with Councillors Arthur Guinasso, Robert Haas Jr., Patrick Keefe, Steve Morabito, Jessica Giannino, Ira Novoselsky, and John Powers voting in favor. Councillors Joanne McKenna, Charlie Patch, George Rotondo and Anthony Zambuto voted no.
Monday night Zambuto changed his vote to ‘yes’ and said he was voting for the next generation.
“I do what’s best for the City of Revere,” Zambuto said,.
The council chamber was packed with people for both sides as the debate and public speaking forum lasted for three hours.
Haas explained the project had been tabled at the August 22 meeting to see if there could be further negotiations between the City and the developer. The developer did reduce the number of apartments. The developer also agreed to invest $100,000 in Donnelly Square improvements in Beachmont. Another three percent of the project cost will be invested into a city trust fund.
“This will be the first hotel complex built in Revere since I was mayor 20 years ago,” Haas said. “I think we should go forward with this.”
Mayor Brian Arrigo said he knew this is a project packed with emotion. He noted his no vote a year ago when the same developers proposed a larger project with only apartments. Now with the addition of a commercial component, the reduction of rooms, and the investment in infrastructure, a public greenway, crosswalk upgrades and traffic signals he could see the benefits.
Arrigo said the work that the developers have done in other communities, such as the AC Hotel at Wellington Circle in Medford is an example of the modern, upscale work the developers need to do in Revere.
“I appreciate the fact that historically, Revere has never got the best deal so there is some well-deserved skepticism. That is a trend I stand before you tonight to change,” Arrigo said.
“What happens at the Shaw’s site will send a signal throughout the region of Revere’s economic viability,” he added.
He added that developments such as Market Street in Lynnfield and Assembly Row in Somerville don’t happen without some sort of residential components.
McKenna, who represents Ward 1, said she always thought the development was too big but she believes in the process and doesn’t want to show that developers can’t work with Revere. She added that she respected the developers and appreciates their generous offer of $100,000 for Donnelly Square.
Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky said the project is in his ward. He said the benefits will come back to his ward. He added that the traffic improvements and technology will be very important. The work to be done won’t cost the city.
Ward 5 Councillor John Powers cited the success of the Comfort Inn, with 95 percent occupancy and a $1 million in taxes back to the city. He noted that there are four hotels in the city.
“We are right now on the cusp of a fantastic situation,” Powers said.
Councillor at-Large George Rotondo opposed the project stating that apartments “make babies”. He said he disputes the figures and found it hard to believe the $12.5 million over five years would come back to the city.
Former Mayor Dan Rizzo who also spoke at Monday’s Council meeting said Arrigo stated in his campaign speech that Revere doesn’t need anymore residential and “now he’s proposing residential.” He turned his speech to the political side, referring to his administration. “We didn’t approve one residential development. We had Harley-Davidson, Market Basket and revitalized Northgate Mall.