Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novselsky brought together the developers of Ocean Avenue and Revere Beach properties at a community meeting May 15 at 376 Ocean Avenue.
What they heard was a vision of luxury apartments, a new hotel, new restaurants, a Starbucks, – a new look for the area that runs parallel to Revere Beach Boulevard.
Bob O’Brien, director of community development for Revere, led the presentation portion of the program. His knowledge of all things Ocean Avenue, past, present, and future, was most impressive. His tone was optimistic as he described what will be the total transformation of this area of the city.
“We had vacant lots and parking lots for as far as the eye could see and now there is a lot of activity on Ocean Avenue,” O’Brien told the residents. “But it didn’t just happen last week. It didn’t just happen in this administration. It really goes back a decade or more.
“Because the city administration then made the decision that if we were going to stimulate private development in this community, we had to make some significant public investment.
O’Brien credited Paul Rudd, former director of community development, as “the guy that was the key to envisioning what has now become Waterfront Square.”
The first development was Vanguard (at the end of Ocean Avenue toward Revere Street). The second development was Ocean 650.
“There are four more sites to be developed, one of which is under construction now – three of which are already spoken for,” said O’Brien. “The six people at this table represent nine Ocean Avenue projects and seven different organizations. These are quality developers with experience.”
Damian Szary, representing Gate Residential (which also built One Beachmont on the former Shaw’s Supermarket site), spoke about his group’s new development at 500 Ocean Ave.
“Our project is a mixed-use project, 305 residential units (60 percent are one-bedroom) and also commercial spaces (two new restaurants),” said Szary. “The hope is to have one of the restaurants open for the Sand Castle Festival.”
Szary said the property is being designed to minimize a view of the 405 parking spaces.
Budge Upton of Upton and Partners is the project manager for a new, family-oriented hotel to be located at 400 Ocean Avenue The hotel is being built by the Lixi Group of Montreal. Upton was also the project manager for the Ocean 650 Apartments.
Upton said the group will be building a SpringHill Suites Hotel under the flag of Marriott Hotels.
“It’s a first-class hotel and Marriott is very involved,” said Upton. “We’ve been planning this for two years. We’re also building a 5,000-square foot restaurant there. We’re also building a 2,000-square foot Starbucks unit. There will be 4,000-square feet of meeting space and a swimming pool.”
Also speaking about their projects were Andy Montelli of Post Road, who constructed the luxurious Batch Yard and Pioneer Apartments in Everett and will build on Parcel 2 in Waterfront Square; Attorney David Jackowitz, who represented Belftonti (646 Ocean Ave.); Caleb Manchester of Gansett Ventures (90 Ocean Ave.), and Reid Joseph of WB Properties, who spoke about Eliot on the Ocean (being rebranded from the current Vanguard name).
Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo and Councillors-at-Large Dan Rizzo and Tony Zambuto attended the meeting.
After the meeting several residents thanked Councillor Novoselsky for arranging for all the developers to be in attendance and available for questions.
Lorraine Hartnett, who has lived at 376 Ocean Ave. (Seawatch Tower) for 28 years, summed up the opinion of many of the residents at the meeting: The new residences and the new hotel will be beautiful and transformative, but there are concerns about the increased vehicular traffic.
“I thought this was a very helpful and informative meeting because up to now, the residents didn’t have a clear picture of what’s happening on Ocean Avenue, only the reality of trying to deal with all this construction for the past six years,” said Hartnett.
“I think the new properties are gorgeous and it’s wonderful that they want to develop the whole Revere Beach area,” said Hartnett.
“But I don’t think the city is prepared to deal with another 1,000-2,000 units in a quarter-mile stretch of road. The traffic is awful. In the morning, it’s the commuters and the people get so frustrated going over that awful road at the Revere Street end, that when they see this clear stretch, they hit the gas and go flying by here at this end of Ocean Avenue,” said Hartnett.