Sky Everett Gets Early Blessing at ZBA, But More Study Needed

The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) signaled an overall openness to the 21-story mixed-use residential tower proposed by V10 Development for the center of the Commercial Triangle area, but the Board also wanted more study and to move cautiously on the area’s first high-rise proposal.

Sky Everett is proposed by V10, which is made up of Ricky Beliveau and John Tocco, and would be their second development in Everett after being approved for The 600 on Broadway. On Monday, they were before the ZBA for their first meeting to proposing Sky Everett – a 21-story tower on Spring and Second Streets abutting Market Forge. The proposal includes 366 residential units, with 5 percent affordable, a significant contamination clean-up of the former industrial property, and a noteworthy rooftop restaurant brought by the well-known Varano restaurant family.

The big question for the night was whether or not height would be acceptable in that area – which is far from most of Everett’s traditional residential neighborhoods but also several steps closer than the Encore tower. To date, more than 3,000 units have been built out or approved for the Commercial Triangle area – a 100 acre swath of land south of the Parkway that few in Everett really cared about until recently. It has, however, become hot property for developers in the Greater Boston area – buttressed by the promise of an extension of Chelsea’s Silver Line on Second Street and soaring lab space buildouts in nearby Cambridge, Somerville and Charlestown. However, most of those developments have been about six or seven stories tall, and though most have far more units, they are nowhere near as tall.

There were lots of questions from the Board, mostly about the height, but most agreed that the height might be acceptable in that area of Everett.

Chair Mary Gerace set the tone, saying she liked the project, but wanted to study the shadow and view blockage before the Board opens the gates on high-rises in the Triangle.

“I like the project and I think it’s an exciting project and will be an asset to the City eventually,” she said. “But you’re the first of many and I want to make sure the view blockage for the future doesn’t take away the million dollar views that exist in Everett. Up by the hospital, that is a panoramic view. I don’t want that to be blocked and we need to study that.”

The end result was a continuation of the public hearing and the matter to the next meeting in two weeks, with the order to conduct a thorough peer reviewed shadow test and view blockage study.

Tocco said they have been working on the building for about a year. When they first began thinking about it, they were going to do the same “high-density donut” development that exists there, but decided to try something new and to give this new section of the city some variety. The only thing left to do was height with open space and a signature rooftop restaurant.

“We didn’t go into this process thinking we were going to build a tower like this,” he said. “We thought it would be something like The 600. What we wanted to do was differentiate the project from the other 3,000 units in the area. We weren’t adding anything to the area or helping to draw attention to it with a regular high-density donut development with a courtyard in the middle. The Pioneer is great and is a pioneer for a reason. It would be the first. We would be the fifth on the block.

“We want to create something and place a centerpiece in the middle of the Commercial Triangle that creates some sense of destination,” he continued. “You come into Everett and pass the casino and turn the corner and see that something exciting is going on.”

Member Tyler Le Cao wanted to know why go 21 stories – jumping from six or seven stories to 21. He said it seems like a giant leap, especially with the maximum height without a permit being 100 feet.

Tocco explained that in the construction world, one won’t see many buildings at or just below 100 feet. There will be 70 or 80 foot buildings, but beyond that the necessity of structural steel calls for going up higher.

“You can’t just jump two more floors because then you’re into a whole new type of construction,” said Tocco. “You need to make that significant jump…You need to jump well over 100 feet.”

Member Roger Thistle said the height is new and a concern because of that, but said it is the right area for that kind of building.

“If it was anywhere else but there, I would not support it,” he said.

Councilor Michael McLaughlin said he supported the development now, after having some reservations at the beginning. While the height of the building is a concern, it isn’t enough to stop the progress, he said.

“I don’t necessarily like the height,” he said. “I think it sets a precedent and we could have other developers come in and want the same thing. It’s an isolated area of Everett though. We wouldn’t allow it on Broadway or Ferry Street…It concerns me, but not enough to make me not support the project going forward.”

Councilor Rosa DiFlorio also said she supported the project as well.

“I am in full support of the project and I think it will bring a lot to Everett,” she said. “It’s in an out of the way area that needs to be cleaned up and if anyone will do that right, it’s John and his company.”

There is one hitch to the height of the building, and that is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and MassPort. The building lies directly under a Logan Airport flight path, and so the FAA will eventually dictate the allowed height no matter what the ZBA approves.

Tocco said they have hired Jamie Fay of Ft. Point Associates to help them through that process later in the life of the development, if approved. He indicated they would build to the limit of what the FAA says, if they are not allowed to go 21 stories.

The project is to be back before the ZBA with the two peer review studies on April 20.

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