Council Hears of Plans for Former Exxon Mobil Site

Representatives from the Davis Company appeared before the City Council at Monday night’s meeting to give a preliminary outline for their plans for the former Exxon Mobil property on lower Broadway.

The 97-acre site would include a mixture of residential housing, high tech manufacturing, research and development labs, and retail space with acreage for usable green space.

Davis’s Chief Development Officer, Michael Cantalupa, and colleague Chris Morrow outlined the extent of what will be a multi-year project to turn an oil-contaminated site into a viable neighborhood similar to Kendall Square.

“We need your help,” Cantalupa told the council, stressing the need for possible changes in zoning and for tax incentives.  As of today, Davis has the property under contract, but is not the owner.  Cantalupa said that depending upon the aid for infrastructure improvements that Davis receives from the city, state, and federal agencies, it will determine whether to go ahead with the project. 

Morrow said that the project would be built in phases with the first phase being a combination of residential, high tech, research labs, and retail.  This phase would encompass 2.4 million square feet of buildings out of a projected 4.2 million square feet that could increase to almost six million square feet.

The height of the buildings would be within the 45 feet that is permissible under the current zoning, but Davis Company may request an increased height of 65 feet for other buildings.  The extent of the greater height allowed to the developer would dictate the eventual total square footage in the project.

In the first phase, there would be 890 units of housing, as well as high tech and research labs that would comprise 1.4 million square feet and retail that would amount to 45,000 square feet.

There is projected to be a total number of 1,555 units of housing in the development. Cantalupa noted that the architecture reflects more modern design and the “architecture needs to be attractive. This will not be your father’s office park.”

He also said that inasmuch as this is a coastal development, the current height of the land would have to be raised by almost 10 feet to be above the 100-year flood plain.

Davis’s representatives said that in order for them to move forward with the purchase of the property, there are three main concerns that need to be addressed.

The first is possible relief from the height zoning ordinance for their first three buildings. The second is public transportation to accommodate the influx of new residents and commuters who will work and live at these sites.  And the third is new public financing by the state and federal governments to help pay for the financing of the roadway improvements that will be required.

The initial feedback from the council was probably what the Davis representatives wanted to hear. Councilor Michael Marchese called this “an incredible plan.”

Councilor Stephanie Martins echoed that sentiment and added, “Anything is better than what we have now.”

However, there were some caveats expressed by the councilors, including the need for a public safety building to house fire engines, police, and ambulances.

In addition, the councilors were united in their desire for more public meetings. Last week, the Davis Company held a meeting at the Encore Resort that was attended by about 50 residents from the lower Broadway neighborhood.

The residents’ main concerns pertained to additional traffic and the number of housing units that are planned.

The four-acre waterfront parcel that presently includes the docks on the Mystic River have no development plans at the present time.

The council sent a request for Mayor Carlo DeMaria to arrange more public meetings on the project.

Public Participation

Several speakers addressed the council at the Public Participation part of the meeting, bringing up various subjects.

Resident Katy Rogers urged the council to adopt an ordinance that would prohibit the use of animals for testing in research laboratories in Everett.

Pat Burke wanted to bring to the attention of the council that the Parking Officer recently was attacked on Broadway for giving out a ticket.  Burke noted there is no ordinance or law at either the city or state level covering an incident like this. “You are the people to do it,” Burke said, urging the council to draft an ordinance.

Elliot Vazquez told the council about the conditions at the 120-unit Glendale Towers. He said that during the recent heat wave, temperatures during the day have been above 100 degrees in some apartments and have remained above 90 degrees at night.

Reappointments Approved

An order requesting the approval of the reappointment of Josephine Navarra to the Council on Aging for a three year term expiring August 31, 2025, was approved by the City Council.

An order requesting the approval of the reappointment of Carol Dello Russo to the Council on Aging for a three year term expiring August 31, 2025, was approved by the City Council.

An order requesting the approval of the reappointment of Anne Wisniewski to the Council on Aging for a two year term expiring August 31, 2024, was approved by the City Council.

An order requesting the approval of the reappointment of Hazel McNeil to the Council on Aging for a two year term expiring August 31, 2024, was approved by the City Council.

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