More than 100 young professionals show up in support, for naught
Zoning Board (ZBA) meetings are important business, but they are typically not well attended, and certainly not a place where the young and hip converge.
But on Monday night, a decidedly young and diverse crowd of more than 100 professionals, workers and long-time young residents converged on the ZBA to support The 600 residential apartment building project on Broadway – and to make their voices heard about the need for more middle-income rental apartments in that same mold.
However, there was one group that didn’t show up.
That group was the Zoning Board.
The Board, after moving the meeting to the Parlin Library at the last minute with little notice, could not get more than four of seven members to show up – leaving petitioners like Ricky Beliveau and John Tocco little choice but to defer the vote until January. Member Mary Geraci announced after a 35-minute delay that three of the members not there had personal emergencies that kept them from coming to the meeting.
That left a sour taste in the mouth of many in the audience, a significant number who were at a public meeting for the first time and wearing red ‘I Support The 600’ T-shirts and hoped to be heard that evening.
With a crowded house for only The 600, the ZBA could have heard the presentation Monday night without voting, and listened to testimony of those in the audience – both for and against – but chose to defer the presentation and the testimony to a later date.
“It’s always disappointing to step on the field and not be able to play,” said Tocco afterward, one of the principles on The 600. “However, we appreciate the huge show of support from the community which motivates us to keep forging ahead. We are so excited for this project and what it will create in the heart of Everett and look forward to our presentation to the full board.”
Some of those in the audience had a connection to Tocco, or worked at Encore and lived in Everett, but others simply came on their own accord.
Tyler Cao, a real estate agent who lives in Everett, said this is the kind of project Everett needs to attract young people, and keep the current young people that live here.
Having brought 10 young professionals with him, he said that is the future of the city.
“I work and live in Everett,” he said. “Over the past two to three years, all the young professionals you see here tonight have moved to Everett. What is going to bring up the value of our community in Everett is young people, and we’re competing to keep them here and get them here. We are competing for urban professionals that will move the city forward. We have plenty of traditional multi-family units, but we don’t have these middle luxury units. The only thing is The Pioneer, but that really doesn’t feel like Everett.”
He said he worked with 12 or 13 Encore executives moving to the area as the resort prepared to open, and only one of them chose to live in Everett due to the lack of housing stock and the lack of appeal in the downtown and Broadway corridor.
“Only one of them bought here out of like 13,” he said. “The reason why is the downtown corridor isn’t cute or charming like Melrose, and it doesn’t feel urban and vibrant like Somerville. The ship has sailed on cute and we have to get to vibrant. This project is the first of its kind. We need 20 more of these.”
The project features more than 80 apartment rental units with 37 parking spaces, and to keep rents down, few of the amenities that one sees in a luxury building. For instance, instead of a fitness center in the building, the developers are touting the City’s Wellness Center just two blocks down the street as an amenity. Likewise, they have partnered with the ownership of The Square Deli to operate a café and full-service restaurant on the ground floor. It’s a building that is marketed to the young professionals, and to empty nesters that are downsizing, Tocco said.
That group does not seek to own cars or want parking spaces, he said. That’s a sticking point for some neighbors near the development, who are worried they will be inundated by parkers who don’t have a space within the development.
To curb that fear, Tocco and Beliveau have promised not to allow residential parking stickers for residents of The 600 and they have also pledged to charge extra for parking spaces.
All that was not on the floor Monday, but if a quorum can be had on Jan. 6 at the ZBA, it will likely be discussed in full.
•TREMONT STREET SUB-DIVISION
In other matters, GTA owner Greg Antonelli rolled the dice with only four members there for the ZBA and put forth his request to subdivide lots on 110 Tremont St.
One side of the current lot is being developed into 46 residential units in a rehabilitated building that has been on the property. The other side remains commercial/industrial and isn’t developed.
“I don’t know what’s going on the left side, but some day it will be developed,” he said. “Right now I’m just trying to clean up some lot lines and make two lots, with the right side remaining residential and the left side remaining industrial.”
Ann Moran, who lives across the street, said she supported the measure, and added that Antonelli bought the property from her four years ago and has been a good neighbor. She said he always shovels for her and helps her when need be.
The ZBA voted 4-0 to allow the subdivision.
•In other matters, the Board voted 4-0 to allow Wynn Design and Development to withdraw their proposal to combine several lots on Lower Broadway and create a snow farm. After looking at the cost, the resort decided not to move forward with the matter.
A proposal 31-33 School St. was moved from the table, and no one showed up to speak on it for the third meeting in a row. Given that, the Board voted 4-0 to deny the request.
All other matters on the agenda were continued into January due to the lack of members present.