Charles Patsios

A good trend in store

Big Y won’t open a new super store in Medford until the fall but the retail chain store making corporate inroads into Massachusetts has already forged strong community ties with the city.

Big Y offered local scholarships during the spring round of high school graduations and, in the process, built up goodwill in Medford with the firm’s demonstration of willingness to support community initiatives and create a close link between the store’s new employees and the communities where they live.

It is exciting to think the partnership spirit demonstrated by Big Y can hopscotch from one area community to another with the company duplicating its Medford generosity in Saugus and Peabody where Big Y is doing business.

The same corporate and community partnership could see Amazon and Whole Foods Market forging tighter community bonds in Swampscott and Market Basket setting down community roots at the end of the summer when its Federal Street store opens.

There are a lot of reasons to hope Market Basket becomes a strong community contributor. The company’s amazing customer and employee loyalty mirrors the tight community allegiances in West Lynn where the new store will open.

Market Basket has consistently pledged to provide full and part-time jobs at its Lynn store and the firm has a history of hiring locally. That’s good news for West Lynn and the city as a whole.

Lynn has already rolled out the welcome mat for Market Basket and Federal Street site owner Charles Patsios with the reconfiguration of the criss-cross traffic patterns at Western Avenue, South Common and Federal Street into a new traffic rotary.

Market Basket will be the anchor tenant on the gigantic former General Electric West Lynn and Factory of the Future site, but it can also be a catalyst for additional business expansion on vacant land bordering Federal Street.

That expansion and planning for full use of the former GE land will involve strong community participation with residents and elected officials weighing in with visions for reshaping the sprawling site.

With its willingness to come to Lynn and hire local residents, Market Basket has set a standard for being an involved and responsible corporate partner with the city.

The corporate-community partnership evolving from Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods Market, which has stores in Lynnfield and Swampscott, could be significant in communities where residents have demonstrated they have the drive and the incomes to help support philanthropic efforts to better their communities.

Whole Foods customers include many people tapped into the online retail world dominated by Amazon. But local shoppers want assurances that Amazon, in the words of one customer,  “won’t mess up the formula” that makes Whole Foods a desirable place to shop.

If Amazon and Whole Foods can create a partnership grounded in compatibility, they will set the stage for strong local corporate giving and initiatives designed to aid the communities where they are doing business.

Is the Swampscott rail trail worth it?

COURTESY PHOTO
A map of the proposed Swampscott rail trail.

YES: Alexis Runstadler, pro-trail abutter and co-chair of Yes for Swampscott Campaign

Love Swampscott — Vote Yes for the Rail Trail.

Courtesy photo

Runstadler

The Swampscott Rail Trail is about community. It is about a 2-mile linear park throughout our town for every neighborhood, every resident.  After 30 years of discussion and debate, now is the time to move this project forward.

Last month, Swampscott Town Meeting overwhelming approved (by a vote of 210 to 56) ($850,000 in) funding for the Rail Trail to move forward with design and engineering of the trail and acquisition of easement rights.  

The Rail Trail is unanimously sponsored by the Selectmen and endorsed by the Finance Committee, Capital Improvement Committee, School Committee, Planning Board, Open Space Committee and Conservation Commission.  However, as is too familiar in Swampscott, a small group of abutters to the National Grid utility corridor want to prevent progress by overturning Town Meeting’s overwhelming vote for the Rail Trail.

A recent letter from these abutters to voters included a lot of inaccurate information. Here are the facts:

The Rail Trail will be solely within the existing National Grid utility corridor, which only National Grid maintains and pays taxes on.

Title examinations on the corridor confirm ownership by National Grid, the Town, and Tedesco Country Club.

No abutter along the corridor has established any ownership to the utility corridor.  The abutters’ own attorney has stated that abutters have completed no title examinations to support a claim of ownership.

The Town is working with National Grid to secure recreational easements using eminent domain – a common way for towns to acquire easements as it cures potential title defects.

Many Massachusetts communities have used eminent domain to create rail trails.

Only property within the utility corridor will be impacted.  No homes will be impacted.

Multiple appraisals establish the value for the recreational easement at not more than $430,000.

Over $175,000 in private donations have already been secured for construction of the trail.  As in other towns, state funding will also be secured to construct the trail.

A lot of good things are happening in Swampscott right now.  Let’s keep it going.  Swampscott deserves the Rail Trail.  Please vote ‘yes’ on Thursday, June 29.


NO: Charles Patsios, Swampscott Town Meeting member and developer

Courtesy photo

Patsios

He wants the rail trail, but not without knowing what the costs are to the town and what the impacts are to other residents.

No other community in Massachusetts has created a trail like this using eminent domain — (it is) a human rights violation to take property against the will of a homeowner for something that is not a great public need. All others have been able to do the hard work of building community consensus.

Approximately 90 abutters have title to the land.

The $850,000 is just a down payment. The full cost to make this project happen will be north of $4 million.

The average price of a home in Swampscott is almost $500,000. To take land from a home will require that the town pay at least 10 percent of the value of the home. This is compensating the homeowner for the diminished value of their own land, as well as paying them for the actual property. Ten percent is a low estimate. It is the estimate used in class action suits that always result in lower payments than to individuals who fight the taking by themselves. Using 10 percent, that means each homeowner will need to be paid $50,000. With 90 homeowners, that is $4.5 million. Add $850,000 and you are north of $5 million — it will increase taxes and is better used elsewhere.

Our elementary schools are falling apart: At some time, we will need a new school. Swampscott taxes are some of the highest in the state. Taxpayers are not going to keep paying and paying. We need to prioritize and we should not prioritize a trail over a school.

This project is being pushed through by the Board of Selectmen using the same tactics they used on the Machon School, the Greenwood Avenue debacle, and the failed elementary school: marginalize and demonize those that oppose it; tell the public it won’t cost that much (but never discuss the full costs); bring the issue to Town Meeting, but not the town at large; and rig the debate at Town Meeting so that proponents have as much time as they need to make their case.

 

Deal developing for River Works rail station

ITEM FILE PHOTO
The River Works stop could be rebuilt to accommodate new residents and the public.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — The prospects of financing a new waterfront neighborhood improved late last week after the developer agreed to spend more than $1 million to expand the MBTA’s River Works Commuter Rail Station.

Charles Patsios, the Swampscott developer who is planning to transform the former General Electric Co. Gear Works property into a $500 million project that would include 1,160 apartments, has signed an agreement with the state to improve the modest station.

Under the terms of the deal, the River Works stop on the Newburyport/Rockport Line that is used only for GE workers, would be rebuilt to accommodate new residents and the public. It will be paid for by Patsios’ company, Lynnway Associates.

“Having the River Works station available for everyone makes this a truly transit-oriented development,” Patsios said. “Now, we can offer a 15-minute trip into Boston on the commuter rail and create a tremendous opportunity for people to discover Lynn at much less cost.”

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In exchange for usage rights, the developer has agreed to build an accessible station in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and improve access to the platforms. In addition to paying for construction and the cost to maintain the new buildings, the developer has agreed to start a “Transportation Improvement Fund” with a $500,000 deposit. The proceeds will be used for transportation improvements in at River Works and developers of future projects will be asked to contribute.

State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said the partnership with Patsios creates a win-win for growth and transportation.

“Economic growth can be achieved by improving the quantity and quality of transportation options,” said Pollack in a statement. “We are pleased at the developer’s commitment to paying for physical improvements at River Works Station. We look forward to seeing the changes that will be taking place as a result of the investment that are sure to include increased new interest in living in Lynn, as the city will have an important new asset in its new permanent commuter rail station.”

Patsios bought the 65-acre GE property in 2014 for $7.6 million. His team has been working to secure permits from the city’s Inspectional Services Department and the state to build the project on the Saugus River. The approvals and the T stop will make it more likely to get financing for the project, Patsios said. “Plenty of people are interested in lending the money for the project,” he said. “Once we have the permits in hand, coupled with the addition of the T stop, we’re a go.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Work continues for Market Basket access

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Construction continues on the new Market Basket on Western Avenue.

LYNN — Work is underway to improve access around the new Market Basket under construction at the General Electric Factory of the Future site.

The $2 million project, funded by DeMoulas Super Markets Inc., the Tewksbury-based chain store, will reconstruct and upgrade Boston and Federal streets and Western Avenue.

It is intended to support the city’s Market Square revitalization, which includes the redevelopment of the 22-acre former GE site. Market Square will feature an 84,000 square foot state-of-the-art supermarket and 50,000 square feet of retail and office space.

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“We have been working on this project for three years and are excited that we are on schedule to open Aug. 1,” said James Cowdell, executive director of the city’s Economic Development and Industrial Corp., the city’s development bank.

The $25 million store is expected to employ 75 full-time employees and 400 part timers. Market Basket will join Shaw’s, Stop & Shop and PriceRite in the city.

Shuttered since 1988, the once state-of-the-art factory sat empty until Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy met with high-level GE executives to discuss redeveloping the parcel.

Charles Patsios, a Swampscott developer, bought the property from GE in 2013 for $4 million.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Developer gears up on the Lynnway

COURTESY PHOTO
Pictured is an artist’s rending of a possible redevelopment off the Lynnway.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — The developer of the former General Electric Co. Gear Works property has provided a first glimpse into the $500 million redevelopment.

An artist’s rendering shows the sprawling new neighborhood that will feature eight buildings to be built on a 65-acre site off the Lynnway with a walkway to the River Works MBTA commuter rail station.  

When completed, the complex is expected to feature 1,260 apartments, boutique retail, restaurants, a gym and new roads within walking distance to bike trails, beaches and the T.

Charles Patsios paid $7.6 million in 2014 to purchase the parcel from GE. His team has been working to win approval from the Conservation Commision, the city’s Inspectional Services Department and the state to build the project on the Saugus River.

The Swampscott developer said his team has reached an agreement with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to expand the use of the nearby T stop at the GE plant on Western Avenue. Today, the train only stops at the factory on the Newburyport/Rockport Line for employees. But under an agreement in the works with the state, the station would be expanded for all commuters, including the new residents at the Patsios project.

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Jacquelyn Goddard, a MassDOT spokeswoman, did not respond to questions about a potential deal with Patsios.

A source familiar with the negotiations said the state will not commit to extending access to other passengers until the project is built.

Once the permitting is completed later this year, Patsios said he will seek financing for the waterfront development.

“We’re getting there,” he said.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Gearing up plan for the Lynnway

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — One of the last hurdles to win approval for a $500 million development designed to transform a desolate section of the Lynnway is scheduled for next week.

Engineers for Swampscott developer Charles Patsios will present plans for the 65-acre former General Electric Co. Gear Works property to the Lynn Conservation Commission  Tuesday night. The six-member panel’s mission is to protect wetlands and water resources.

The developer is seeking approval for the project to be built on the Saugus River. The commission can regulate or prohibit activities that may alter waterways.

When completed, the complex is expected to feature a 1,260-unit apartment tower, boutique retail, restaurants, a gym and new roads within walking distance to bike trails, beaches and the MBTA.

Michael Toomey, a commission member, said the group will review their plans and if the members have any questions, they will be raised at that meeting.

“At some point, we will most likely issue an order that lays down the conditions we expect them to follow to protect the waterway and comply with the state wetlands laws and local bylaws,” he said.

Patsios said he is not worried about satisfying the commission.

“There are no issues that I’m aware of,” he said. “It’s a matter of crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s. I don’t see any problems or obstacles.”

He said his team recently reached a milestone deal with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to expand the use of the nearby MBTA River Works Station at the GE plant on Western Avenue. Today, the T only stops at the factory on the Newburyport/Rockport Line for GE employees. But under an agreement in the works with MassDOT, the station would be expanded for all commuters, including the new residents at the Patsios project.

“We have a tentative agreement and MassDOT is working on the documents,” he said.  

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack could not immediately be reached for comment.

Patsios paid $7.6 million in 2014 to purchase the parcel from GE and has been working to win approval from a variety of city and state agencies ever since.

Of the three major projects in the works on the Lynnway, the Patsios project is the grandest and the priciest and could be a game changer for the city. It has the potential to unlock billions in gleaming residential and commercial real estate projects and transform the Lynnway.

Joseph O’Donnell, founder of Boston Culinary Group and Belmont Capital in Cambridge, is developing a 17-acre site for a $69 million luxury apartment project across the Lynnway that would include 250 units in a three-story building. At the other end of the Lynnway,  Louis Minicucci Jr. and Arthur Pappathanasi are working to turn the vacant Beacon Chevrolet site into an $80 million oceanfront apartment community. If approved, the project will include 348 apartments in two buildings across from North Shore Community College.

“As soon as we have all the approvals in place from the Conservation Commission, the city’s Inspectional Services Department and the state, we will then get to the financing,” Patsios said.

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Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Market Basket rise could lower food prices

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
The new Market Basket at the corner of Federal Street and Western Avenue is seen in Lynn.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — When Market Basket opens next summer at Western Avenue and Federal Street, it will do more than transform the vacant General Electric Factory of the Future site.

The grand opening will be the first salvo in a fight for your food dollar and your pocketbook could be a lot fuller when the dust settles.

“There’s going to be a price war, no doubt about it,” said Michael Berger, senior editor at the Griffin Report of Food Marketing, a Duxbury-based trade publication.  

“This is not the first time it’s happened when Market Basket opens in a community with competitors,” Berger said. “Market Basket is not afraid of anyone. They will go up against all the major supermarkets.”

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Market Basket will join Shaw’s, Stop & Shop and PriceRite in the city providing more competition and driving down the cost of food, he added.

Last month, in a presentation to the city council, James Cowdell, executive director of the city’s Economic Development and Industrial Corp., said no matter where consumers shop for food in the city, they will benefit from lower prices on the first day Market Basket opens.

Frustrated by the lack of construction on the 16-acre property that had been abandoned since 1988, Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy met with GE executives to discuss steering the site toward redevelopment four years ago.

Following those negotiations, Charles Patsios, the Swampscott developer, bought the property in 2013 for $4 million. Market Basket CEO Arthur T. DeMoulas joined officials last year to celebrate $2.5 million in state money for road improvements around the site.

Foundation for the 84,000-square-foot store was poured on the $25 million project last summer and steel has been rising since September.

“It’s a very exciting thing for the city and its residents who are getting a raise in pay by cutting their grocery bills and getting high quality products,” said James Moore, the attorney representing Patsios.

The store will employ 75 full-time employees and 325 part timers, he added.

Shaw’s and PriceRite did not respond to a request for comment.

In a statement Phil Tracey, a Stop & Shop spokesman, said “As it has for almost 20 years, the Stop & Shop store on Washington Street will continue to serve the Lynn community as a good neighbor and help our customers save money, save time and eat well.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Taco Bell has a bad ring to it for Lynn neighbors

By Thomas Grillo

LYNN — City councilors Tuesday night rejected a 24-hour Taco Bell proposed for the Lynngate Shopping Plaza.

Instead, the Licensing Committee approved a closing time of 1 a.m., similar to other fast food shops in the city. The city’s action clears the way for the 2,500-square-foot restaurant that is under construction on a portion of the parking lot in the shopping center at Boston and Stetson streets.

More than a dozen residents of the 162-unit Stadium Condominiums on Locust Street behind the plaza packed the hearing room on Tuesday night. They argued that late night hours will exacerbate traffic and trash problems on Boston Street and disturb the neighborhood at all hours.

Patricia Dutch, a Stadium resident, said she is worried about the restaurant’s lights shining on their condos.

“We are totally opposed to an all-night operation,” she said.

Michele Wilkins, a condo resident, said she has complained about the temporary fence with cement blocks on the sidewalk around the construction site that has caused pedestrian accidents, but has not received a call back from Taco Bell.

“Given the lack of response, I don’t know what kind of a good neighbor they would be,” she said. “A midnight closing is fine, not 24 hours.”

Gertrude Sally Chapman, another Stadium resident, said she wants a guarantee that the lights from the eatery and the cars going through the drive-through will not shine on their homes.

“We are abutters to this property and we have not been told anything and have been left in the dark with nothing in writing,” she said. “Hopefully you will listen to us.”

Jack Griffin, another Stadium resident, said the neighbors are concerned about trash and rodents in the eatery’s lot as well as noise from customers.  

“We have the best looking condos in the city and we want to keep it that way,” he said.

Ward 3 Councilor Darren Cyr,  Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi and Councilor-at-Large Brian LaPierre said while they sided with neighbors over closing time, they are not anti-business and hope Taco Bell and the condo owners can work out their differences.

Cyr said Taco Bell is welcome to return to the council at a later date to report on how the operation is going and if neighbors are convinced the eatery is a good neighbor. If so, Cyr said they will reconsider the closing time.

Michael Rose, marketing coach for Charter Foods, the firm that franchises more than 200 Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s and KFC locations, said the Tennessee-based company has 24-hour operations in other regions of the country. Typically, he said, the restaurant closes at 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends and only the drive-thru is open all night. Rose said he can live with the 1 a.m. closing time and hopes the restaurant’s management will have a good relationship with the neighbors.

In other council matters. James Moore, the attorney representing Charles Patsios, the Swampscott developer planning a $500 million mixed-use complex at the former General Electric Co. Gear Works property, is seeking the city’s approval to add an assisted-living facility to the 65-acre project.

In addition, Patsios is seeking to increase the height of his tallest residential tower to 26 stories, up from 20, to make room for parking. If approved, the developer would have the option to add the new such housing to the mix that is expected to include 1,250 apartments and condominiums adjacent to the train stop. The full council is expected to consider the new zoning at a later date.

In another move that could make a new $26 million YMCA a reality, the Ways and Means Committee approved the sale of a large adjacent traffic island in front of the facility that could be used as a expansion site. The city determined the parcel was worth about $215,000, the YMCA offered $50,000 and the panel and the Y agreed to a $75,000 price tag for the parcel.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

All roads will lead to Market Basket

By Thor Jourgensen

LYNN — City councilors are poised tonight to sign off on spending $2.5 million in state grant money on what a top city official called significant improvements to traffic flow where Western Avenue and Federal Street intersect.

A new traffic rotary, signal lights and other improvements are part of the roadway and infrastructure work planned around the future Market Basket site. Scheduled to open in September 2017, the $30 million project will give the popular retail grocery chain a Lynn presence and provide 400 jobs, with hiring preference for Lynn residents.

“There is no underestimating the importance of Market Basket and this is an opportunity to upgrade traffic improvements,” said Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (EDIC/Lynn) Executive Director James M. Cowdell.

Councilors are scheduled to take a vote authorizing the state MassWorks grant spending tonight and Cowdell said initial roadway and infrastructure work will start this fall.

Meninno Construction Co. of Lynn is doing site preparation work on the Market Basket site, including grading and shaping the future Market Basket parking lot and installing underground utilities.

“It’s a great project for us and a sizeable project right in our backyard,” said Meninno President Nick Meninno.

Tewksbury-based Retail Management and Development is the project developer overseeing the new store’s construction. The firm’s website describes how each of its developments are “anchored by a Market Basket store” with neighboring businesses on the development site.

Site owner Charles Patsios said Meninno Construction Co. is already doing site improvement work on the former location of General Electric’s Factory of the Future.

“He’s doing everything that needs to be done prior to the building being built,” Patsios said Monday.

Cowdell said most of the traffic improvement work will be done by spring 2017. It will include building a rotary to improve traffic flow where Western Avenue and Federal Street meet.

“Right now, five different directions of traffic intersect at that location. That intersection has been a problem for a long, long time,” he said.

New traffic signals are planned near the Market Basket site on Boston Street and two on Western Avenue.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

City takes the LEAD with developers

Charlie Patsios talks about the future of the land that used to house the old General Electric gear plant site during the economic development tour today. Item Photo by Owen O’Rourke

By Thomas Grillo

LYNN — Jay Connolly admits he is “somewhat of a stranger to Lynn,” but the vice president of Beverly-based Connolly Brothers Inc. registered for Tuesday’s city development tour of Lynn to find new opportunities.

“The city seems to have lots of potential, proximity to Boston and waterfront opportunities, so it’s exciting to see it,” Connolly said.

More than 100 investors, developers, lenders, brokers and contractors like Connolly boarded three buses for a glimpse at the city’s development opportunities.

“It’s encouraging to see so many new faces looking at Lynn,” said Matthew Picarsic, managing principal of RCG, a Somerville-based real estate firm whose Lynn projects include the Boston Machine Lofts building on Willow Street. “Lynn has lots of opportunities … and it seems ready to go.”

Hosted by the Economic Development & Industrial Corporation of Lynn (EDIC), MassDevelopment, the state’s economic development agency, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton and the Lynn Economic Advancement and Development (LEAD) team, the tour showcased acres of waterfront land and more than a dozen underdeveloped properties in the downtown.

Charles Patsios, the Swampscott developer who is preparing to build a $500 million complex on the 65-acre former General Electric Co. Gear Works property that will feature 1,200 apartments adjacent to the train stop, met the tour on his site.

“Lynn has the best of the best and it’s been hidden in plain sight for so long,” he said. “Lynn is the next Charlestown, East Boston, South Boston, North End, Somerville, Cambridge, Kendall Square, all of those components can be found in Lynn. The future is Lynn … the opportunities abound.”

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy welcomed the visitors at the ferry terminal parking lot on Blossom Street extension, telling them that few people know there are 200 acres of undeveloped land available in the city, much of it on the waterfront. She urged them to let their imaginations stay open throughout the event. “Hopefully, you will come back with some ideas to transform Lynn,” she said. “All of us are standing by, ready to make that happen for you.”

Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development and a member of a LEAD team, said he’s excited about Lynn’s present and future. He said the response he’s received about investing in Lynn has been encouraging.

“For those of you who are thinking about development in Lynn, I can’t think of a better place to make an investment,” he said. “It’s a jewel along the water. This place is happening. We are prepared to work with you to help make your development successful. We know that together there are great days ahead for Lynn and we are happy to be a small part of it.”

Gregory Bialecki, who held Ash’s job in the Patrick administration and is now a principal at Redgate, the Boston-based developer who is considering Lynn, said as housing prices soar in places like Somerville and Chelsea, Lynn is the next logical place to build apartments.

“Twenty years ago, people said Chelsea was not on the list of where people with choices would want to live, but they’ve turned the corner,” he said. “The conditions are ready for it to happen in Lynn.”

Sen. Thomas McGee (D-Lynn) sang the city’s praises to the potential investors, telling them Lynn has a vibrant sense of community that is unmatched.

“Our waterfront offers one of the most beautiful sites on the East Coast and there are regional water transportation opportunities,” he said. “I know I’m biased living here in Lynn, but people in this city really care about this community.”

State Rep. and City Council President Daniel Cahill said so many elected officials gathered for the tour because they believe in the city.  

“We have done lots of rezoning, so you will see lots of build as-of-right possibilities, a very exciting phrase to developers, and we have expedited permitting,” he said. “You will find some great parcels and great investments.”

Just before the tour, James Cowdell, EDIC’s executive director, said the downtown has been rezoned to allow for conversion of industrial buildings into housing. As a result, he said, more than 300 new residents live downtown.

He provided a preview of the stops along the trek including 545 Washington St., the five-story former home of Prime Manufacturing Co. that is zoned for commercial use on the first floor and residential above; 11 Spring St., a six-story building across the street from the MBTA that has been used for location shots for Hollywood movies; 40-48 Central St., vacant buildings with adjacent parking which comprise a site for multi-story, market rate housing above commercial space; 38 South Common St., and the 1893 state-owned Lynn Armory that is on the National Register of Historic Places and is available for sale.

In addition, Cowdell noted there are multiple sites available on the waterside of the Lynnway including 40 acres owned by National Grid that could be developed.

“The sky’s the limit,” Cowdell said.

State Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) said the city is finally getting noticed, in part, because they have a full set of tools in their toolbox to help developers.

“We want to show off the city and get feedback to see if there are things we can do better,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton met the tour at the Lynn Museum & Historical Society and compared the proximity of Lynn to Boston in the context of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

“Think about how Brooklyn has taken off in the last 10 years and it’s not just the Brooklyn of 50 years ago” he said. “There are a tremendous number of start-ups, a great tech scene and all sorts of things that are very much relevant to today, not just the economy of old. That’s the kind of thing we want to see in Lynn.”

At the start of the tour, about two dozen members of Lynn United for Change, a community organization that supports affordable housing, used the gathering to advocate for low- and moderate-income units. They held signs that read “Lynn Says No To Gentrification” and “Lynn Families Before Developer’s Profits.”  

“In this city, we need affordable housing that’s accessible to the working people of our city,” said one protester through a bullhorn.  

City Councilor-at-Large Brian LaPierre, who was present during the protest, said the developer’s tour was not the time or place to air their grievances over housing.

“I would not go along with 100 percent of the units in a new development being affordable. But I am sympathetic to their cause. But the details are subject to them talking to the developers to see how many affordable units, if any, developers are willing to do.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Construction set for Lynn Market Basket site

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
The Site Planning Review Committee meets regarding the Market Basket site on Federal Street at Lynn City Hall. James Moore of Bradley Moore Primason Cuffe & Weber LLP, describes the site plan to Robert Stilian, James Cowdell, Clint Muche and Jamie Marsh.

BY THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Construction of the new Market Basket at the General Electric Factory of the Future site is set to commence this week.

On Tuesday, the Site Plan Review Committee unanimously approved the project, clearing the way for building permits to be issued. The foundation for the 84,000-square-foot store will be poured this week on the $25 million project.

“It’s a very exciting thing for the city and its residents who are getting a raise in pay by cutting their grocery bills and getting high quality products,” said James Moore, the attorney representing Charles Patsios, the site’s owner and Swampscott developer.

Market Basket, which will join Shaws, Stop & Shop and PriceRite in the city, is scheduled to open next summer at Federal Street and Western Avenue

“This is the culmination of a few years of effort so we’re very excited,” said James Cowdell, executive director of the city’s Economic Development and Industrial Corp.

He praised Jamie Marsh, the Department of Community Development director, for securing $2.5 million in MassWorks money for infrastructure improvements around the supermarket.

“It’s interesting when you think of the scope of this project how the neighborhood almost universally supported it,” Cowdell said.  

The store will employ 75 full-time employees and 325 part timers, he added.

Shuttered since 1988, the once state-of-the-art factory sat empty until Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy met with high-level GE executives to discuss steering the site toward redevelopment. Patsios bought the 16-acre property from GE in 2013 for $4 million. Market Basket CEO Arthur T. DeMoulas joined city and state officials last year to announce $2.5 million in state money for road improvements around the site.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Two rotaries to anchor new Market Basket

Diagram displayed in City Hall Tuesday shows proposed rotaries as part of traffic improvement plan for new Market Basket store.

BY THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — Two rotaries, one on each end of Federal Street, will anchor the new Market Basket store and ease traffic flow around it, city officials said Tuesday.

Site owner Charles Patsios, EDIC/Lynn executive director James Cowdell and City Councilors Peter Capano and Jay Walsh listened as traffic consultants explained how the proposed rotaries will funnel traffic where Federal, Waterhill, Marion and Boston streets meet and where Western Avenue, South Street and North and South Common streets join Federal.

The state contributed $2 million last year to pay for traffic improvements and sidewalk work. The Federal Street Market Basket is expected to employ as many as 400 workers and is scheduled to open next year. General Electric’s long-vacant Factory of the Future was demolished earlier this year to make way for construction.

Patsios said the proposed traffic plan makes sense.

“They tell me this is what will work and I believe them,” he said.

Capano said the plan will ease traffic congestion on some of the city’s busiest streets while providing safer pedestrian crossing points.

 

 

Beacon shines on Lynn waterfront

ITEM FILE PHOTO
James Cowdell

BY THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — The Beacon Chevrolet site on the Lynnway has been sold for $2.5 million, clearing the way for an $80 million waterfront residential project.

Lynn Development LLC, a North Andover-based entity managed by Louis Minicucci Jr. and Arthur Pappathanasi, closed the deal on Monday. The seller was John Granese Jr., trustee of Beacon-Bel Realty Trust in Marblehead.

Officials say the sale represents a giant step to jump start one of the waterfront’s major developments. It promises to begin the transformation of an underdeveloped city section into a world-class neighborhood complete with apartments offering sweeping ocean views, and nearby ferry service and a commuter rail station.

“We are very excited,” said James Cowdell, executive director of the Lynn Economic Development & Industrial Corp. “This project will have a shovel in the ground next spring.”

Plans for the 14-acre site include 355 apartments with rents expected to be in the $2,000 range.

“The people who will live there will primarily work in Boston, but can’t afford to live in Boston,” he said. “It offers a one-minute walk to the ferry with a 30-minute ride to Boston or a trip on the commuter rail, two minutes away. It will transform the area, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.”

There are several projects on the drawing board for the Lynnway. Charles Patsios plans to construct a $500 million development that would offer 1,200 apartments on the former General Electric Co. Gear Works site. Joseph O’Donnell, founder of Boston Culinary Group and Belmont Capital in Cambridge, is investing $69 million to develop a 17-acre waterfront site that would include 250 units in a wood frame, three-story building.

Still, Cowdell admits there’s a healthy skepticism in Lynn where residents have heard promises of revitalization for years. “People are critical because they haven’t seen any progress yet,” he said. “But the Beacon site will transform that area, 40,000 cars drive by daily and they will look at the waterfront differently.”

Minicucci and Pappathanasi were unavailable for comment.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Rail station could put development on track

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
The MBTA’s River Works station at the General Electric Co. plant on Western Avenue.

BY THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — It has the potential to unlock billions in gleaming residential and commercial real estate projects and transform the Lynnway.

But without it, there’s a chance development will stall.

At issue is whether the MBTA’s River Works Station at the General Electric Co. plant on Western Avenue will open to the public. Today, the T only stops at the factory on the Newburyport/Rockport Line for GE employees. The Conn.-based corporate giant owns the station and the commuter rail picks up and drops off employees as a courtesy.

At least two developers have more than a passing interest in turning the GE stop into a regular station with more frequent service.

Swampscott developer Charles Patsios paid $7.6 million in 2014 to purchase the 65-acre former GE Gear Works property adjacent to the train stop. When completed, the $500 million  complex will feature a 1,200-unit apartment tower, boutique retail, restaurants, a gym and new roads all within walking distance to bike trails, beaches and hopefully the T.

But to attract Millennials who are seeking an alternative to the exorbitant rents in Boston’s Seaport neighborhood where a tiny studio starts at $2,200 and a one-bedroom can cost as much as $6,500, Patsios needs the River Works Station.  With a stop just outside the door of the complex, he can market the location of the luxury units as a 10-minute train ride to downtown Boston.

“Expansion of the service is vital,” said Patsios. “With the train stop, this would be a truly transit-oriented development. It  would bring young people with disposable income to the city. It’s transformative and ours is just one of many projects that could benefit by it.

Joseph O’Donnell, founder of Boston Culinary Group and Belmont Capital in Cambridge, is developing a 17-acre site on the waterside of the Lynnway. O’Donnell’s associate, Charles Morneau, said they plan to commence construction next spring on a $69 million luxury apartment project that would include 250 units in a wood frame, three-story building. The key to the development is public transportation, he said.

“We’re planning to build whether or not the train stops there,” he said. “But it would be much better economics, higher rents, if the train stops to pick up our tenants.”

While State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack is on board with expanding service at the station just off the Lynnway, making it a reality poses a number of obstacles.

The stop, with its modest plexiglass shelters, is owned by GE. A spokesman for the company said they are in discussions with the state and the developer over expanding the station’s use.

“We are aware that there is keen interest in having River Works Station as a more regular stop once the development gets to be vibrant and something tangible takes place there,” said Richard Gorham, a GE spokesman. “We are committed to working with them to come up with an agreement that works for everyone.”

Still, it’s unclear what kind of improvements must be made to make the station accessible or whether the stop would be grandfathered and unaffected by the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. At the very least, the station needs a platform.

The new Yawkey Station near Fenway Park on the Worcester Line cost the state $15 million and the new station adjacent to New Balance’s Brighton headquarters cost about the same, but was paid for by the sneaker giant.

Given the troubled financial shape of the T, Pollack said the state cannot pick up the tab for renovation of the station stop.

“The T is not buying new assets just now,”she said.  “But I am quite optimistic that we will able to work out an arrangement as we move…to scheduled service with the cooperation of GE and the developer. Upgrading the station is a longer term piece that we have not focused on.”

Patsios said if he has to pay for the station at those numbers, it would be a deal killer.  He said he’s already spending millions for new roads that lead up to the station and possibly a garage.

At least one solution is being pursued. Jason Denoncourt, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton’s economic development director, said the Lynn Economic Advancement and Development team, a group of city, state and federal officials who have a single mission of transforming Lynn, recently held a conference call with the U.S. Department of Transportation to discuss applying for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant.

Since 2009, the competitive program has provided nearly $4.6 billion to 381 projects nationwide. The federal money leverages investment from the private sector, state, local governments and transit agencies. If approved, the cash would be used to upgrade the station.

But getting the money is not guaranteed. The agency Department has received about 6,700 applications requesting more than $134 billion for transportation projects nationwide. They typically provide about $500 million annually. Lynn is planning to apply.

“The rail stop expansion is an important piece to unlocking the development in that section of the city,” said Denoncourt. “This whole thing is a priority for Cong. Moulton.”

“Expansion of the service is vital,” said Patsios. “With the train stop, this would be a truly transit-oriented development. It  would bring young people with disposable income to the city. It’s transformative and ours is just one of many projects that could benefit by it.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Retail buys into Lynn

BY THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — Peter Gori works in world class cities like Washington, D.C. and New York, but he came to Lynn on Tuesday because retailers like what they hear about the city.

Gori assists the International Council of Shopping Centers retail program and he helped host a morning forum at the Lynn Museum focused on ways to launch public-private development partnerships in Lynn.

He said Lynn is attractive to retail developers for several reasons. Prospective state environmental regulation changes offer the potential of providing more flexibility to retail developers and Lynn is served by mass transit and close to Logan Airport.

“There is untapped potential with the waterfront,” Gori said.

Lynn has come to his attention since last November when state, federal and local officials formed the Lynn Economic Advancement and Development team with the goal of bringing developers to the city.

State Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash is involved in LEAD. He pointed to Swampscott resident Charles Patsios on Tuesday as an example of a developer bringing retail projects to Lynn.

Patsios owns Federal Street land where a former General Electric plant was recently demolished to make way for a Market Basket store slated to open next year. A $2 million state grant will pay for road improvements and other work around the site.

“We believe the most important thing we can do is to help attract private investment through public infrastructure improvement,” Ash told 30 people attending Tuesday’s meeting.

Ash said retail-driven development opportunities helped transform Chelsea, where he formerly worked as city manager. A third hotel is being built in the city along with high-income housing. Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce President Leslie Gould said similar opportunities are possible in Lynn.

She said increased regulatory flexibility will be a welcome change for local developers.

“For example, the former policy was that all commercial space on ground floors had to be open to the public. The changes allow for daycares and appointment-only type businesses to be added to that mix, creating a mini-community,” Gould said.   

Erin Calvo-Bacci opened CB Stuffers, a Swampscott chocolate specialty business, and said Lynn’s waterfront is a good location for a shopping complex similar to MarketStreet in Lynnfield. Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy agreed.

“If there were a developer with a proposal like MarketStreet, I think that would be a very good fit and dovetail with our vision for the waterfront,” she said.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

The sky’s the limit in Lynn

PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Five months ago, Jay Ash, state Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, joined Gov. Charlie Baker and Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy on the steps of City Hall and vowed to deliver on the city’s long-awaited transformation.

Today, Ash is meeting with a group of local, state and federal officials to review progress on their partnership. Their mission is to find resources that can revitalize the city and spur development on vacant and underused parcels, including the city’s waterfront.

“People in Lynn have a right to say, ‘I’ve heard all this before,’ but this is happening,” Ash said. “I don’t know which groundbreaking will be first and then…bam… there will be so much attention, so much action, so much positive development for Lynn, that it’s really going to take off.”

Ash is meeting with the Lynn Economic Advancement Team, a panel that, in addition to Ash, includes U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, James Cowdell, executive director of the Economic Development and Industrial Corp. (EDIC), Environmental Secretary Matthew Beaton and others who can cut through the bureaucracy and make things happen.

I’m in Lynn every other week talking to developers looking at property and we’ve come to the table with a bag of resources,” Ash said. “There are about six major projects that could take place over the next year or so. We have identified dozens of permitting issues and public actions that should advance development.”

Among the projects on the wish list include:

  • MBTA stop on the commuter rail at the GE property
  • Continue ferry service to Boston  
  • A new gateway to Lynn from the city’s south side
  • Waterfront residential development
  • Hotels and high-end retail
  • Parks
  • Transform GE parking lots in West Lynn into apartments

The governor, who drives through Lynn enroute to the State House from his home in Swampscott each day, has identified $918 million in spending for economic development. Much of the cash is in programs that Lynn and other so-called gateway communities could benefit from.

O’Donnell’s associate,
Charles Morneau, said they hope to start construction next spring with a $69 million luxury apartment project that would include 250 units in a wood frame, three-story building.Joseph O’Donnell, founder of Boston Culinary Group and Belmont Capital in Cambridge, is developing the 17-acre former Building 19 site on the Lynnway. The company bought the mortgage for the parcel from the FDIC in the 1990s for an undisclosed amount.

The key to the development is public transportation, he said. It would help his project and trigger more mixed-use construction in the waterfront district if the MBTA’s River Works Station on the Newbury/Rockport line was not limited to GE employees.

“We believe it’s a great spot with spectacular views that will attract tenants,” he said. “If we get public transportation, that whole area works because everyone wants to be near the T because it’s the only way to get into Boston economically.”

While this would be the first major waterfront project to put a shovel in the ground,  Morneau said his company is not a pioneer.

“We have owned the land for a long time and we are committed to make a go of it now,” he said. “We’re in the position to get out of the gate first and we are willing to do it, at least at that parcel, and that will give others the chance to see what the market is and what else can be built.”

Minco Development Corp. has presented plans for a $90 million mixed-use development that will include 348 one- and two-bedroom apartment units at the former Beacon Chevrolet site on the Lynnway.

Charles Patsios has plans to construct 1,200 apartments on a former GE site near the Building 19 parcel.

Gregory Bialecki, who held Ash’s job in the Patrick administration and now works as executive vice president at Redgate, said the Boston-based developer doesn’t have any properties under agreement in Lynn, but they are on the lookout.

“We are looking for places that are a short ride into Boston by subway or commuter rail, so the fact that Lynn is a quick trip into the city by rail checks the box for us,” he said. “Our target population is seeking an interesting urban neighborhood when they get home and Lynn checks that box off too.”

It helps that the Baker administration has sent a strong message to builders that the commonwealth will support new development in Lynn, Bialecki added.

Lynn’s Cowdell said they are also looking to General Electric Co. to boost jobs and examine several parcels in West Lynn, primarily parking lots, that could be transformed into apartments.

“If there were skeptics as far as the governor’s commitment to Lynn, there shouldn’t be any skeptics now,” he said. “The team has worked effectively and in a very short period of time has been able to move key projects along.”

Ash, who is well known in the development community for bringing a revival to Chelsea over his many years as city manager, said something is happening in Lynn that can’t be denied.

I have had multiple conversations with a dozen property owners in Lynn and probably another two dozen conversations with developers outside the city,” Ash said. “One of those includes a big one in Boston who is used to doing billion dollar projects who said, ‘I hear you guys are all in Lynn, what have I been missing and where should I be looking?’”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Lynn will cash in on GE

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
RN Vicky Casides, Nurse Practitioner Scott Weissman and Clinical Assistant Jennifer Castellanos, from left, look at and evaluate their work and identify ways to improve it using LEAN methodology.

By THOMAS GRILLO and THOR JOURGENSEN

Boston is not the only city that will benefit from an infusion of cash as General Electric Co. prepares to move its headquarters to the city’s Seaport District.

While Boston will reap $50 million for its schools, to build a diverse workforce and develop the next generation of healthcare workers, GE has also allocated $10 million to provide training, access to the company’s manufacturing labs and work opportunities for underserved populations outside of Greater Boston, including Lynn and Fall River.

It’s unclear how much money Lynn will get. A GE spokesman could not provide any details on Tuesday, noting that the specifics have not been worked out.

We intend to start discussion soon, but we don’t have a timeline,” said David Lurie, GE’s public relations manager. “The details on how the money is allocated will be made over the coming months. We’ve made the commitment and will figure out how we will specifically do it.”

Generally, he said, the money is earmarked for workforce development and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said she was surprised by GE’s announcement at a Monday news conference in Boston.

“They haven’t talked directly to me about it,” she said. “But any money that GE contributes to Lynn for the betterment of the city is good news.”

Asked if she plans to initiate a call to the company’s headquarters in Connecticut to get more information, the mayor said “GE has been very good about keeping in touch with us. I expect to hear from them in a day or two and if I don’t I will certainly follow up.”

GE has had a storied history in Lynn.

Its workers built mainstay military and commercial jet engines and helicopter engines at the River Works complex, wedged between the commuter rail tracks and Western Avenue.

A landmark for decades on Lynn’s landscape, GE’s presence in Lynn is changing with the former gear plant site off the Lynnway demolished and slated for residential development.

Earlier this year, Charles Patsios broke ground for a Market Basket supermarket to replace the former GE Factory of the Future site on Western Avenue.

Lynn Community Health Center and school officials praised GE’s local support. River Works volunteers help run science, technology, engineering and mathematics study projects and undertake school improvement projects, like painting classrooms.

Lori Abrams Berry, the center’s director, said the Union Street facility’s five-year-old partnership with GE has included $400,000 in financial support and expertise lent by company managers. Some of the money paid to develop a children’s asthma program at the center and a primary care in behavioral health program.

“It’s improved care,” Berry said.

GE volunteers coached center workers in performance management techniques to reduce waiting times and improve the patient referral process at the center.

“In some ways, that is more valuable than the grants,” Berry said.

The company’s human resources workers also consulted with the center on best practices to develop a strategic plan. Berry said the center was one of the first Greater Boston health facilities to forge a partnership with GE and she credited former Lynn Mayor Thomas P. Costin Jr. with linking the health center to GE.

Let’s hope Federal Street ignites a wildfire of hope

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy and building owner Charles Patsios talk as the demolition begins on the Factory of the Future Building in Lynn.

Few sights could be more welcome than the giant excavator slowly chomping away at the big beige building on Federal Street.

Vacant since 1988 and saddled with the ironic name, Factory of the Future, the big plant has been hidden behind tall fences and formerly closed-off Federal Street until 2013 when Swampscott developer Charles Patsios and Lynn city officials gave the General Electric site a nice hard shove into the 21st century.

GE is still the biggest business in Lynn and city officials watching the Factory of the Future’s demolition begin this week were careful to ensure the excavator did not start its work by ripping down the signature cursive GE logo. The building’s outer walls will be stripped off over the next month and interior walls, wiring and floor will be removed to provide a sturdy skeleton for a new Market Basket store.

Bringing jobs and new commerce to a former vacant site in the city’s center is great news, but the Factory of the Future’s demolition is even more important as a symbol of change. Stagnancy is the worst barrier against progress and the former GE West Lynn site with its acres of depressingly empty asphalt embodied stagnancy.

Company officials, city leaders, Patsios and Market Basket deserve credit for bringing progress to Federal Street and it will be exciting to see how the empty land around the Market Basket site fills out with additional businesses or other uses.

The greatest hope for the Factory of the Future site is for it to become a spark igniting development and renewal across the city. Another former GE site where giant naval turbines were once built is poised to catch fire once Patsios and state transportation officials can reach an agreement on expanding use of the River Works commuter rail stop.

Once that detail is ironed out, it will be only a hop, skip and jump across the Lynnway to ignite development along what is arguably one of the most underdeveloped Eastern Seaboard waterfronts.

Progress — like hope — is infectious and here’s hoping Patsios’ and the city’s progress on Federal Street spreads across Lynn.

New future for Factory of Future

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Building owner Charlie Patsios and Mayor Judith Kennedy watch as the demolition of the Old GE building on Federal Street in Lynn begins.

BY THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — An excavator started demolishing the long-empty General Electric Factory of the Future building on Federal Street Monday to make way for a supermarket.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy smiled and clapped as the big machine took its first bite out of the building’s loading dock before proceeding to rip down part of a wall.

“This building has been vacant for so long,” Kennedy said. “It’s coming down for something new.”

Market Basket is scheduled to open a store at Federal Street and Western Avenue next spring, she added. New Hampshire-based Kidder Building & Wrecking Inc. crews will strip the 84,000-square-foot building to its foundation and steel frame.

“This is the day we begin to bring 400 jobs to this site,” said James M. Cowdell, executive director of the city’s Economic Development and Industrial Corporation.

The partial demolition will take 10 days — weather permitting — and sets the stage for a construction of the store to build the store and add 20,000 additional square footage.

“GE built a very solid foundation and we are adding to it,” said Charles Patsios, the site’s  owner and Swampscott developer.

Shuttered since 1988, the once state-of-the-art factory sat empty until the mayor met with high-level GE executives to discuss steering the site toward redevelopment. Patsios bought the 16-acre property from GE in 2013 for $4 million. Market Basket CEO Arthur T. DeMoulas joined city and state officials last year to announce $2.5 million in state money for road improvements around the site.

The work will start this summer with contractors creating turning lanes on Spencer Street. Additional road repair working and street lighting installation will be done on streets surrounding the site, including Marion and Waterhill streets.

Kennedy said the new Market Basket will attract Lynn shoppers and customers from Nahant, Saugus and other communities.

Lou St. Onge, Kidder’s project manager, praised City Hall for working with the demolition firm to prepare the site for excavation.

“You’re very good,” he said.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

 

Lynn building on residential construction

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Lynn Inspectional Services Director Michael Donovan thumbs through the environmental notification form for the former General Electric gear plant site.

BY THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — Construction in the city in 2016 will be dominated, according to city building permit requests and recent project filings, by large-scale residential buildings and renovation work.

Leading the herd of big projects already undertaken or scheduled to enter preliminary stages next year is Swampscott developer Charles Patsios’ 1,250-residential unit development off the Lynnway and Washington Gateway, the 71-apartment development planned on Washington Street.

Patsios said work involved in preparing the 65-acre former General Electric gear plant site for development will begin in 2016. State officials are reviewing the project’s two inch-thick environmental notification form, but Patsios said environmental testing on the former manufacturing site produced good news.

“After exhaustive testing, the results came back better than I hoped,” he said. “Planned development of housing is well within the scope.”

Patsios’ plans call for seven residential buildings, according to the notification form, along with a sports club, with the development located between the Lynnway and the commuter rail tracks paralleling the River Works.

“These will be high end,” said Lynn Inspectional Services Director Michael Donovan.

Slated to be built by a developer affiliated with the Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development, the Gateway Residences at Washington represent “…the beginning of the city’s effort to revitalize the Washington Street Corridor and the Sagamore Hill Neighborhood,” LHAND planning and development director Peggy Phelps wrote in a letter to Donovan.

With initial funding assembled for the $27 million house development, the project calls for 18 market-rate apartments with the other residences designated for tenants with different income thresholds.

Outfitted with a fitness room and 54 parking spaces, Gateway will use roof-mounted solar panels to generate electricity, according to Phelps’ letter.

“We are proud to be able to add 71 units of workforce housing and 2,000 square feet of retail space to Lynn as we start the revitalization of one of its most important and prominent neighborhoods,” wrote Phelps.

A city building permit review for 2015 indicates a major residential renovation project dominated construction activity this year.

Louis Barrett building owners filed a permit in October to undertake an estimated $5.6 million in renovations to kitchens and bathrooms in the high-rise’s 139 units, as well as installing a new roof and boiler and other work.

Christ Child Nursery undertook a complete renovation of its 41 North Federal St. facility, valued at $1.3 million, according to building permit reports, and General Electric and the Lynn School Department also filed permits for million dollar-plus roof replacements in 2015.

Donovan said the gear plant and Gateway projects point to a local construction trend angling away from public, tax dollar-funded projects to predominantly private sector projects like Patsios’ and two other local developments — a supermarket and residential building planned for Silsbee and Friend streets, and a North Bend Street residential development.

“We’re seeing an upswing with apartments, but we’re not seeing single-family homes,” Donovan said.

Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.