Two More High-Rise Projects in Revere Beach Area Okayed

The Revere Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) held its regular monthly meeting last Wednesday, August 30, in the City Councillor Joseph A. DelGrosso City Council Chamber at Revere City Hall.

On hand for the session were chairman Michael G. Tucker and fellow members James O’Brien, Aklog Limeneh, John Lopes, and Arthur Pelton.

The board approved two major projects in the vicinity of Revere Beach.

The first — an application by The Neighborhood Developers (TND), Inc., 4 Gerrish Avenue, Chelsea for multiple variances to enable the construction of a 75,000 sq. ft. mixed-use building at 110 Ocean Avenue — proved non-controversial, with no opposition and a host of supporters, including city officials and many residents.

Atty. Gerry D’Ambrosio represented TND. “This development is important for the community and for No. Suffolk Community Services,” said D’Ambrosio, noting that the sort of zoning relief being sought has been granted to numerous other projects on the beach. “110 Ocean Ave. is a 16,000 sq. ft. lot and is occupied as a mental health facility, which will remain, and above it will be 48 affordable housing units of seven stories. There will be parking spaces on the ground floor and the second floor will hold the 7-9 beds for the mental health facility. There will be 30 two-bedroom, six three-bedroom, and 12-one-bedroom units.

“This is a reputable, non-profit organization,” D’Ambrosio said of TND. “They have a great track record in Revere and have built three projects here. They are a great landlord and hire locally. This building will be gorgeous, will include infrastructure improvements, and will fit in with the neighborhood.”

He also noted that 70% of the tenants will be current Revere residents. “This is an important project for Revere,” D’Ambrosio said in conclusion, referring to the additional units it will bring to the city’s affordable housing stock.

Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna spoke in favor of the project, citing the “drastic need for mental health facilities in the state and the lack of affordable housing in Revere.”

She also noted that TND has given assurances that current Revere residents will be the primary occupants of the residential units.

Former School Committeeman Anthony D’Ambrosio spoke in favor of the project, citing the need for affordable housing for Revere residents, the well-run organization of TND, and the need for mental health resources.

Jan Dumas, a member of the Revere Affordable Housing Trust Fund, added her support for the project. Anthony Parziale of Arcadia St.  also expressed his support, noting that the city still needs close to 700 more affordable housing units per state law or it will be subject to the consequences of a c. 40B development.

Laura Christopher, a TDI fellow for Revere with Mass. Development, also expressed her support for the project. She noted that economic development, which is her primary concern, is intertwined with the need for affordable housing in the city.

Many residents sent in letters of support, as did city officials, including the Planning Board, Ward 2 Councilor Ira Novoselsky, and State Senator Lydia Edwards.

There were no opponents and the board unanimously approved the application, with the condition that tenants will not be eligible for resident and non-resident parking permits and passes per the city’s parking program.

However, the second matter — a request by Nefta Realty Trust, LLC, c/o Ahmad Selman, 1176 North Shore Road, for multiple variances to enable the construction of a 10-story, 160-unit apartment building on the properties at 6 Agawam Street and 1176-1198 North Shore Road — brought out a score of proponents and some opponents.

Atty. Lawrence Simeone Jr. represented the applicant. He told the board that the first floor will be for parking and there will be nine floors of residential units. The two parcels consist of about 21,000 sq. ft, which is less than the necessary 25,000 sq. ft. for a project of this size.

There will be 16 units per floor, 144 altogether, consisting of two two-bedroom units, 10 one-bedroom units, and four studio units per floor.

The project also required variances for the lack of side-yard and rear-yard setbacks and for less parking than might be otherwise required.

Rick Salvo, an engineer for the project, noted that the property abuts the Transit Oriented District and the T parking lot at Wonderland Station.

A large number of residents turned out to support the project, which presently is the site of a used car lot. The first was Mark Armstrong of 40 Sears St. “This is the further development of Revere Beach,” said Armstrong, with another resident noting, “This will be an improvement over a used car dealership.”

Mario Martinez, the owner of the lots at 7-9-11 Agawam St., which are across the street from the project, said he was in favor of the project because the city needs more housing, the lack of which is forcing many residents to leave the city.

Victor Galli of 59 Fenley St. told the board, “This will beautify the city in place of a used car lot. It will be uplifting for the city in that area,” a theme reiterated by Kevin Welch of 52 Geneva St. who said, “This is one of the gateways to the city and will contribute to the beautification of that area leading to the beach.”

The residents of 4 and 6 Agawam St. also supported the project, as well as a resident of Oak Island St., who said he personally is having difficulty finding an apartment in the city.

After hearing from a number of other proponents, the board heard from an opponent, Lou Markakis of 1133 No. Shore Rd., representing the 17 owners of units in that complex, which is about 100 yards across the street, who cited the parking deficiencies in the project.

“There is no hardship here as defined by the statute,” Markakis added. “It is self-imposed and is totally based on greed.”

Angela Guarino-Sawaya said she has been contacted by many residents who have expressed their opposition to any more apartment projects in the city. “These are not low-income apartments,” said Guarino-Sawaya. “We are going to be stuck with more traffic. We are stuck in a gridlock now. We have enough apartments in this city and we cannot take any more.”

Phil Consolo, a local realtor, added, “It already takes a half hour to get through there, and now you want to throw in another 144 units?”

Anthony Parziale of Arcadia St. asked for a community meeting and expressed his concern about the density of the project. Ward 5 Councillor Powers communicated to the board that he does not support the project at the present time and that he believes a community meeting is necessary.

After the back-and-forth from those in attendance, ZBA member Lopes pointed out that the abutters approve of the project and that the traffic problems stem “from the communities north of the city, not from within the city.

“I’m more about the abutters’ concerns and they are in favor of it. This project will clean up this area,” Lopes said.

The board voted 4-1, with Tucker opposed, to grant the application, with the added condition that the tenants will not be eligible for the city’s on-street parking program.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.