By Adam Swift
Plans for a homeless facility on Arcadia Street have been withdrawn by the local developers.
For the past several weeks, neighborhood residents have been vocal in their opposition to the plan presented by local business owners John and Robert Nakashian to build a 24-bed facility at 84 Arcadia St.
But behind the scenes, the neighbors, developers, attorneys, and city officials were working to come to a suitable agreement on the project.
At a neighborhood meeting at Santorinis on Monday night, the Nakashian brothers and attorney Gerry D’Ambrosio said they would no longer build the facility on Arcadia Street. In its place, the Nakashians are looking to return to the city with a plan for five townhouses on the 17,000-square-foot lot.
“These are complicated problems that we face, and the key is to be collaborative and try to work through them, which is what I think we did here, while at the same time, not digging our head in the sand and ignoring the homelessness crisis,” said D’Ambrosio.
Because the use of the facility that was proposed was defined as a restorative/educational facility under Revere zoning and the state’s Dover amendment, it did not need approval for the use by the Zoning Board of Appeals or the City Council.
However, the City Council did draft a letter voicing its opposition to the project. Neighbors, meanwhile, collected signatures in opposition to the project and held several protests, both at City Hall and in front of several businesses owned by the Nakashian brothers on North Shore Road.
One of those neighbors, Anthony Parziale, said it was an overall effort by all the neighbors working to resolve the problem.
“Everybody in the neighborhood stepped up, every single person,” said Parziale.
While Parziale was vocal about his discontent with the project in public, he said ultimately he wanted to thank the Nakashians, D’Ambrosio, city councillors, local legislators, and the mayor for working together to come up with a better plan for the neighborhood.
“I want to thank the attorney for helping our community, for the Nakashian family, because they are a big part of this, they are family people that listened to us when we said this needs to be in a different location,” said Parziale. “I want to thank and apologize to the mayor, because the mayor had a big hand in having this go in a different place, and I was out in front of his office for 10 days, every day with a megaphone calling him out. I apologize to and thank the City Council, because I did the same thing to them.”
While Parziale said the neighbors are largely in support of having the five townhouses on the 84 Arcadia St. property, that plan will have to be submitted to the city and needs a special permit from the City Council.
Ward 5 Councillor John Powers noted that a similar townhouse proposal was defeated about a year ago because of flooding concerns.
However, Powers said he was against the homeless facility being located on Arcadia Street, and would support the new townhouse proposal.
“I don’t think a project like (the homeless facility) should have ever been presented to the city of Revere,” said Powers. He added that he introduced a special motion at a recent council meeting to bring more information about the project to light, and urged D’Ambrosio to relocate the proposal.
While he said homeless services are needed in the city, Powers said a dead end street with many families was not the right place for it.
Powers said he will support the special permit for the town houses, based on the fact that he would rather see that than a homeless facility. However, Powers said he was not thrilled that it seemed like the city was being forced to make a choice between two less than ideal proposals. He added that he trusts the Conservation Commission to do its due diligence to address any flooding concerns the townhouse proposal might present.
As for a facility providing services for the homeless population in the city, D’Ambrosio said he is working with a private sector client to find a more suitable location in Revere.
“Hopefully, it will be in an area of the city where there will be less community pushback and we can still provide services that we need,” said D’Ambrosio. “This is a small program for Revere’s homeless people, it’s not for homeless people that are being brought in here.”
D’Ambrosio said there is a need to push the issue forward in the city.
“We need to keep the community happy, but at the same time trying to solve a compelling community problem,” he said. “People need to acknowledge that it is a problem, because if we don’t, it’s only going to get worse. We’re going to have homeless people at every set of lights, we’re going to have them on Broadway, and we need to find a way to get them help, back on their feet, and off the streets.”