By Adam Swift
The planned redevelopment of the dilapidated former Lee’s Trailer Park on Winthrop Avenue, consisting of 250 residential units with 10 percent of the units offered at affordable rates, is headed to the City Council’s zoning subcommittee.
The council opened the public hearing for special permits for the development at its meeting on Monday night before moving it to the Feb. 26 zoning subcommittee meeting.
The six-story building will have 36 studio, 106 one-bedroom, and 106 two-bedroom apartments, according to attorney Gerry D’Ambrosio, representing developer Helge-Gansett. There will also be parking spaces for 179 vehicles and the mixed-use development will have retail space on the first floor of the building on the five-acre site.
The proposed 25 affordable units at 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) will represent the first privately developed project in the city with an affordable housing component.
“You are being asked to consider one thing, is the project that is being proposed more advantageous than what’s there now or what could be there,” D’Ambrosio said.
During his presentation to the council on Monday night, D’Ambrosio noted that the park was initially built in the 1940s, previous to the current zoning standards for the property. While Lee’s Trailer Park once served a useful purpose, D’Ambrosio said that over the previous several decades it fell into a serious state of disrepair and has been a hotbed for police and ambulance calls in the city.
The development will also include other benefits to the city besides cleaning up the trailer park, including increased property tax revenues and other money to the city, including $500,000 to help turn the former Beachmont fire station into a community arts center. The developers will also help clean up Green Creek and provide public access to the creek, according to D’Ambosio.
According to a traffic study, D’Ambrosio said there would be a minimal uptick in traffic at the site compared to its use as a trailer park.
“I think this is a great project for the city,” said D’Ambrosio. “It really is a win-win and I really want to take the wind out of the sails of everybody who is going to stand up here and say, well, this project will be causing too much congestion, because it’s just not true.”
Several residents said they were concerned about the increase in traffic, noting that there will definitely be an increase in traffic as compared to the largely unused current state of the trailer park. There were also concerns raised about the density of the project and the impact it will have on the schools and city services, as well as the level of affordability being offered through the project.
Lor Holmes of the Revere Housing Coalition said the 10 percent affordable housing level is better than what the city has done in the past, but that it is nowhere near what the city needs. She noted that the developer has built elsewhere in the city and not offered affordable units in those buildings.
“You might like what you see because there are pretty buildings in Revere now, but the things we like about the character of the community, the diversity, the families – we’re not going to have that in Revere if we continue to let this development get out of control,” said Holmes.
Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna said there is still work to do for affordable housing in the city, but said the Winthrop Avenue project is a good start.
“We are getting 25 affordable apartment units for the residents,” said McKenna. “This is the first time we are getting affordable housing. It is a start and we will get there.”
McKenna noted that the development will also bring other benefits to the city, including the clean up of Green Creek and money for the community arts center.
Councillor-at-Large Juan Pablo Jaramillo said the 10 percent affordable housing level was not ideal, but that it was a start.
Councillor-at-Large Michelle Kelley said she agreed that the proposal is better than what is currently on the property, but said she wondered if there were other ways the property could be developed to promote more of a neighborhood feel.