In what the developer and City planners are calling a win for the future of Everett, the long-discussed project ‘The 600’ was approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) last Tuesday evening, Feb. 18.
The 85-unit development that would contain a locally-owned restaurant would be situated at the top of the Broadway crest in an area of the City that – to date – has not yet experienced the rush of development that other areas have seen. With another building now being constructed across the street, Volnay Capital and the administration believe it’s an area of Everett prime to attract young and old that want to live a vibrant life close to Everett Square and Boston transportation hubs.
“Mayor DeMaria has a clear vision for the community and one that I share and believe in,” said John Tocco, A10 Associated and Partner of The 600. “It’s an honor to be afforded the opportunity to help realize this vision and start the revitalization of Everett Square. I would like to thank the overwhelming support we received from the community and the trust that has been imparted in us from both the Planning and Zoning Boards. We have a lot of work ahead but promise to make you proud.”
The ZBA voted 4-1 to approve the project, and it was a project that saw a huge amount of supporters come out to advocate for an affordable – though market-rate – development in the increasingly pinched Everett housing market.
On the flip side, it’s also a development that has but 37 parking spaces for the 85 units and restaurant. That has made a lot of neighbors nervous in an area that typically doesn’t have a lot of foot traffic and vibrancy past the hours of McKinnon’s Market and DiBlasi’s Sub Shop. Such a big change drew a lot of skeptics.
ZBA Member Mike Dantone was the lone vote against the project, saying he felt it was too tall. During the meeting he argued for it to be five stories rather than six. Overall, the height is only about three feet over what is allowed, but the numbers of stories exceed what is allowed by two stories.
“One thing that concerned me was the sheer volume of the project,” he said. “This will be the tallest project in Everett in a long time. The elevation of that building will actually be taller than Encore because it is on such a big hill. It’s a big, big step for Everett. I’m trying to buy into the Mayor’s vision of people not needing cars, but I am a bit old fashioned in my thinking on that. I haven’t seen it yet.”
Tocco said the project would feature units that are affordable to those working professional jobs in Boston or at Encore. He said he and his partners have heard loud and clear that this kind of housing product is desperately needed in the Everett market – and specifically in Everett Square and not on the Parkway like many others.
“Despite being market rate units, they will be priced significantly lower than the other institutional buildings we’ve seen go up or are planned,” said Tocco. “ We plan our market rate to be more affordable without have the official designation.”
He said studio and one-bedroom units in the early stages are being contemplated at rents of $1,600 to $2,600 per month.
More than anything, it’s a development that brings a $28 million investment into the heart of Everett. Before the last two years, no projects had really been planned or built in the heart of Everett. There had been plenty on the edges, but nothing so large in the middle of the city.
“We are the first sizeable building of any substance that’s being proposed in the heart of Everett,” said Tocco. “We are a $28 million project. I don’t know when the last time was that a $28 million investment happened in the heart of Everett. We’re not saying we’re close to Boston or Rt. 1. We’re saying we’re in the heart of Everett with a restaurant. We want people to be excited to live in the heart of Everett. That’s transformative.”
He also said he hopes that The 600 is the first of many such opportunities for their company in Everett.
City Transportation Planner Jay Monty said the administration was able to get some important requirements for transportation into the project.
Those requirements include residents there not being able to get off-street parking permits, providing five on-site car share spaces, participating in the new Transportation Demand Association, and not bundling parking spaces into the rent (spaces would be first-come, first-serve and would require an extra payment beyond the rent).