By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Four different developers appeared before the City Council on Monday night seeking permission to build out, tear down and rebuild anew. One could displace a Revere Beach institution.
The first development at 320-329 Revere Beach Blvd. is proposed by A. Chara Development, LLC of Revere. The current property is the site of the old Boulevard Club and next door is Bianchi’s, which has been at this site since the 1970s although it’s been in existence since the 1950s. New development on the site would consist of a six-story, mixed-use structure with two commercial units on the first floor and 145 residential units.
During the public hearing several people spoke in opposition, many living in the St. George condominiums next door.
One of the principals with A. Chara Development is Matt Philbin, owner of the Rodeway Inn on American Legion Highway. Several people commented on the good job he did in turning that property around.
Attorney Lawrence Simione said plans call to raze the three buildings currently on the property. He added that there will be a restaurant, a fast-food shop and another commercial enterprise will be on the first floor. The residential units will consist of studios to three bedrooms with the top rent being $3,500. There will be 188 parking spaces. A shuttle service to the T and Zip Cars.
“We want to keep the history and Bianchi’s has been around since the 1950s,” Simione said.
The proposed, 147,000-square foot, U-shaped building marks a $50 million investment on the boulevard, he added.
Simon noted that there will be traffic studies and shadow studies.
James Cipoletta, attorney for NRP Equity for the developer, said, “This is a win-win situation for the city. Attorney Jeff Turco, representing the Bianchi family, also attended the public hearing.
“We are the longest, continuous operation on the boulevard,” said Robert Bianchi.
Ward 5 Councillor John Powers said nothing was being hidden about the project and he was recently present at a meeting at the St. George which 40 people attended.
Attorney Deborah Habig-Shnek, who lives in the St. George made an impassioned argument against the proposal. Traffic and congestion were her prime concerns. She noted the beach traffic and the plight of emergency vehicles trying to make it down the boulevard on a hot summer day.
Resident Ralph DeCiccio opposes the project and asked about the impact on the school system.
“The school department can’t handle this,” he said.
State Rep. RoseLee Vincent, who also lives in the St. George, said she is not opposed to responsible development, “just overdevelopment.”
“And there is not enough parking for 145 units,” she said.
She noted that The Atlantica with 81 units was an example of responsible development.
“The time has come to put into perspective what’s good for the city,” Vincent said.”
“There’s already a bottleneck on Ocean Avenue, the Paul Revere School is overcrowded with 40 to 50 kids,” Powers said. “Bianchi’s is the best pizza around but it’s no reason to allow 144 units. This doesn’t just effect the St. George, but also Point of Pines and Oak Island.”
He asked the developer to consider building as a matter of right. Simione said that that would look like a 12-story building with 187 to 200 units.
“I can’t support this, it’s too overpowering for that part of the boulevard,” Powers said.
“Let’s do what’s best for everyone and not just the neighbors at the St. George,” said Councillor Tony Zambuto.
The proposal was sent to the Zoning Subcommittee.
With all the proposals parking was an issue, as was traffic congestion.
The second development is from Yeaman’s Street Investment, LLC of Chelsea. Principal Jamie Russo is proposing to construct a new three-story mixed-use development consisting of 22 residential micro-units and four commercial units on the first floor.
Attorney Cory Rhodes, representing Russo, said the micro-units are 290 to 400 square feet while one-bedroom units would be 650 square feet.
“Twenty-two units equals 22 drivers.” said resident Eric Lampedecchio.
The third and fourth developments are build-outs of residential property.
At 6-8 Garfield Ave., owned by Biping Huang of Winchester, the proposal is to expand a non-conforming, six-unit, residential building to an eight unit building. The lack of parking on the property was raised. Councillor George Rotondo also asked for the building to be inspected. This proposal was sent to the council’s Zoning Subcommittee for its Dec. 4 meeting.
The last development proposed was for 542 Beach St., owned by Leon Geszapnc of Brookline. He is seeking to expand a six-unit building to an eight-unit residential building and he is seeking parking relief. His attorney stated that the building was originally eight units.
“Beach Street is a very congested street,” said Ward 3 Councillor Arthur Guinasso, adding that traffic is a problem everywhere. “There’s no hardship here, it’s profiteering.”
Ward 5 Councillor John Powers said the expansion of properties has to stop. He also noted that the owner does not live in Revere, yet Revere gets stuck with the problems.
“I don’t care what recommendation comes out of committee, but I will not support this,” said Powers.