Members of the Wynn Everett team said on Monday night that, contrary to many rumors, they will not be purchasing the Honda Cars of Boston property on Lower Broadway, comments that came during a one-hour presentation at the Everett Planning Board Monday night that marked the first local review of the giant project.
Numerous Wynn Everett officials, including President Bob DeSalvio and Wynn Chief Legal Counsel Kim Sinatra, and several consultants appeared before the Planning Board Monday night in what was the first meeting of the Site Plan Review process for the gigantic $1.7 billion project – what is believed to be the large single-phase project in the history of New England. Due to the size, Planning Director Tony Sousa announced that the City has engaged to outside consultants.
HONDA NOT IN THE PLANS
The meeting marked the true beginning of the local process to review the only Greater Boston casino project, and delivered many details that were yet unknown – including the information on Honda.
“At this time, we’re not considering buying the Honda dealership,” said Chris Gordon, a consultant for Wynn. “We had talked with them about purchasing a few areas around the edge of their property to widen some turns (on the service road). At this time, though, there are no plans to purchase the Honda dealership.”
That put an end to months of rumor and discussion about what had and had not been purchased by Wynn on Lower Broadway. Many had postulated that the recently renovated car dealership had been purchased, but it appears that’s not the case.
That said, there was a whole lot more coming out of the meeting on Monday, but officially, the Planning Board tabled the hearing for further consideration at what will be a much larger meeting with public comment on Aug. 24. At that point, Wynn said they will have full plans available, including a key grading/elevation plan.
“We’re close on that, probably a couple of weeks away,” said Gordon.
ENTRANCE/EXIT QUEUING CONSIDERED
Wynn officials did talk a lot about traffic, including the queuing plan and the traffic flow at the site.
They explained that traffic will come in on the currently-disputed MBTA parcel – which will serve as the main entrance rather than Horizon Way, which they said will not be used at all. Traffic will enter the 2,930-space parking garage about 200 yards after entering the resort. An exit will be located just beyond that so cars don’t cross paths. Exiting cars will have to cross two lanes of incoming traffic to leave the site, which planners said should not be a problem. Planning Board members were concerned that there might be a queuing problem at the exchange – especially when tour buses join the mix.
“We modeled that and even at the peak hours, we didn’t have a problem with queuing,” said Gordon. “There will be humans out there too, not just computer models. There will be traffic managers on the ground, but we modeled it pretty carefully and we believe it works really well.”
Just beyond the entrance/exit is a bus drop off point, where tour buses will unload and be able to turn around.
PORTE-COCHERE A FOCAL POINT
Further down will be the focal point of the development, the Porte-cochére, where valet parking will be available and where the grand entrance to the resort will be located. By design, most traffic will not reach that point, but rather will enter the parking garage or unload from a bus long before getting to that point.
Of course, water transportation will be a focal point as well, and the docks for the specialized Wynn water taxis will be in front of the Porte-cochére on the water. Wynn officials said there will be two downtown Boston stops initially, and then more will be added as the venture proves successful.
The casino will be located in the back of the building, beyond the Porte-cochére and the grand lobby. Wynn officials said it was important to them to have the casino not be a mandatory pass through space.
“Gaming will be behind the tower,” said Gordon. “You can or cannot choose to go to the gaming area. It’s optional. You can come in and enjoy the lobby with ornate architecture, high ceilings, floral displays and artwork, and then go the other direction to the restaurants or spa.”
LANDSCAPING LUSH, IMPECCABLY MAINTAINED
The landscaping plan was also brand new and was presented by Pam Shadley of Shadley Associates – a Massachusetts landscape architectural firm.
“This will be very lush, very evergreen and impeccably maintained,” she said. “There will also be a 20-foot wide Harborwalk running along the full edge of the property, all open to the public.”
There will be about 12 acres of landscaping, and it will include many different varieties of trees – including Red Maples on the waterfront. The large front green space will be made of synthetic turf – as will two other small fields – and will feature closed views of the water. That will mean that trees will separate and buffer the views – eliminating from view things such as the taxicab queuing area and the car entrance.
Also included will be a “living shoreline,” which she said means that there will be a restored salt marsh beyond the Harborwalk – and not just an edge into the water.
“It won’t be a hard edge after the Harborwalk, but a restored salt marsh that slopes gradually down from the walk and creates a restored salt marsh,” she said. “It will be a habitat created and will attract things like butterflies that people like to look at.”
She also indicated that the front entrance/Porte-cochére would be a centerpiece of the landscape design.
“It is going to have a presence from the water and in the overall site plan and hopefully will be quite profound,” she added.
MORE DETAILS ON SERVICE ROAD
As far as the service road, more details were revealed about that.
The entrance will come onto Broadway near the McDonald’s property and will wind around behind the MBTA Yard and onto the back of the casino site. It has already been disclosed that an off-site warehouse property will be sited just off the access road where the Charlton Small Business building now sits.
The service road is not expected to impact the new Batch Yard Loft development.
Deliveries will come on that service road, and loading and unloading of deliveries and trash will take place behind the casino building. The Fire Department will also have a staging area behind the building as well.
“We’re probably two months away from having a definitive design on that road, which has to go on top of MBTA property and out by the McDonald’s,” said Gordon.
A key point stressed by Wynn folks concerning back-of-the-house operations was keeping employee parking off-site. They said they have contracted spaces at Wellington Station and Malden Center, where employees would be bused in by shuttle. Meanwhile, a parking lot in the produce center off of Beacham Street is not locked in, but could be used at some point – with shuttles brining employees to the site 24 hours a day.
The Board voted 4-0 to continue the hearing, without allowing public comment, until Aug. 24 when full plans are expected to become available.