One Thing Leads to Another: GreyStar Purchases Market Forge project

Hot on the heels of acquiring the Wood Waste site and celebrating a groundbreaking there this week, GreyStar has acquired the Market Forge site on Garvey Street and submitted a significantly smaller project than the previous developer had approved in early 2020.

GreyStar’s Chris Legocki said the company has purchased the project from the previous developer due to the positive experience they had in taking over the Wood Waste site and getting it to a groundbreaking. However, in this case, they intend to downsize the project and create more of an internal community with less access to the public than the previous design.

“Otherwise, they are entirely reducing all impacts of the project – the size of the project, the height, the unit count and the parking count significantly – including the elimination of a free-standing parking garage that had been previously approved,” said Project Attorney Jennifer Schultz at the June 14 Planning Board meeting. “The project will be absorbing parking into the building itself…The new project is still proposed to meet all of the conditions of the Site Plan and Special Permit that were granted in April 2020. Some of them are significant mitigation, which the proponent is prepared to honor despite a major reduction in impacts.”

Legocki said GreyStar believes in the City’s vision for the Commercial Triangle, which is why they took on the Market Forge site – which has been documented to have some severe contamination issues left over from past industrial uses.

“GreyStar is a firm believer in the City’s vision for the Commercial Triangle Development District and from that experience with Wood Waste on Boston Street, we feel we have an unmatched understanding of what it takes to bring a project from site plan to construction. We feel this nearly five-acre site at Garvey presents an incredible opportunity to expand the revitalization of the Commercial Triangle area on Garvey Street beyond what’s happening on Vale Street. We’ve been working tirelessly to re-imagine this project.”

The new project has reduced the number of units from 591 to 450 units. The height has gone from 82 feet to 69 feet, and the parking spaces from 1,006 to 564 – which is still within the zoning for the site. The freestanding parking garage has been eliminated, and the retail offerings have grown by 15 percent.

Legocki said their traffic analysis of the new project showed that the changes would result in a 39 percent decrease in traffic impacts.

On the retail side of things, Legocki stressed they are putting more retail along 2nd Street to continue activating the streetscape and have committed to giving over an easement for the future Silver Line dedicated bus lane that will likely travel in front of the project when it expands.

The retail spaces will be an opportunity for local small businesses, Legocki said.

“I want to make it clear that the way we’re approaching the retail on this project is to be a benefit for the residents and the community and not an opportunity to enhance the bottom line of this project,” he said. “We think the right thing to do here is bring in the right retailer and give them an opportunity…”

The design of the project is significantly different from the previous project, which had multiple buildings and a more open concept. The new design is less open and resembles three donuts sitting side-by-side. The “donut holes” are three internal courtyards with amenities for residents. There would be a dog park behind the development that would have public access and be open to anyone that wants to use it.

With the major changes in the project stated, that was an issue for a lot of the Planning Board members – who noted that it wasn’t a simple change of a few things, but rather a totally new project.

“You say it’s a modification, but this is a whole new building and a whole new development,” said Member Leo Pizzano. It’s now conceptual and has no relation to the previous building whatsoever. We put a lot of effort previously into that other building and spent a lot of time with it…I’d like to see something here more than conceptual at this point.”

Attorney Schultz said if they were to come in with a new project rather than a modification, then they would no longer honor the mitigation commitments from the old project.

One thing not stated at the meeting is that if it were a new project, it would trigger the new Linkage Fee ordinance passed earlier this year – resulting in many thousands of dollars being paid into the Linkage fund from that new project. With a major modification, that ordinance isn’t triggered as it only considered a continuation of the previous project, which was approved before the Linkage Fee ordinance went into effect.

The project was continued until the June 28 meeting for consideration then.

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