Last week, a small crowd gathered in the 600th block of Broadway as heavy machinery moved in to take down the dilapidated old house that once housed a dentist.
Not much has happened on this part of Broadway, where one-story offices and stores punctuate a neighborhood of three-deckers. It’s a neighborhood that hasn’t changed significantly in 50 years or more.
It’s why the machinery brought in by Greg Antonelli and GTA drew some interest.
Nothing like that had happened there in some time, but Antonelli is likely the first of many who see the City’s vision for making Broadway a corridor for multi-unit housing and easy transportation. With housing in high demand in Everett, and prices on the rise, the push is on to get denser development in neighborhoods like upper Broadway – and at the same time try to solve the transportation problems using things like the dedicated bus lane that runs by the property.
“This area is really underdeveloped; it’s really the first time in probably 75 years a building has been knocked down on this area of Broadway,” Antonelli said on Thursday morning as crews continued to take down the old structure. “It wasn’t an historic home and it will be a $4 million investment into this part of Broadway. If you look around, we need to have enhanced sidewalks and coffee shops here. Everything around here is just one-story offices. These should all be bigger. We’re behind places like Malden, Somerville and Medford who are all changing this way. We should be too…What we need is a future development plan specifically for this area of Everett.”
The building he knocked down hadn’t been improved in more than 30 years, had structural issues, and was from a time when Broadway was more pastoral and less urban.
What is planned for the site is an 18-unit apartment building with parking on the first floor. The Zoning Board has already approved a variance for the project, but the Planning Board still has to review it.
However, City officials have said they hope to see more dense development in the area – especially mixed-use development where housing sits atop retail offerings. That, indeed, is the plan for Everett Square, and also the desire for Glendale Square in the near future.
It’s also a great possibility for the area in question, known simply as ‘The Hill.’
“In general the Everett Square and Glendale Square mixed-use projects make sense and I would say the same is true in that area as well,” said City Planner Tony Sousa, who cautioned that the specific project by Antonelli still needs a thorough review. “That kind of development fits. You have amenities like McKinnon’s, the MGH Clinic, Everett Square is close and the Wellness Center. There a lot of perks for development between Everett Square and Glendale Square, so we’ll see.”
Building Inspector Jim Soper said the development there is pioneering, and it’s something the City sees as the way of the future, but there needs to be some zoning changes to make it easier.
“The Mayor’s vision is to get that kind of greater development and that the zoning has to change so we can entice developers to put in taller, mixed-use developments,” he said. “We’re trying to come up with resolutions to the transportation issues that creates. The bottom line is the bus lane has helped on Broadway and we’re working on the other business areas…We do have to work on the zoning in areas like that for building up mixed-use development in business areas. We need to work on resolving some of that.”