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Revere gets $2M for Shirley Avenue

REVERE — Shirley Avenue, which has been in the news lately because police have targeted narcotics dealing in its bars, is getting a facelift.

A $2 million MassWorks grant to the city will enable improvements to streets and sidewalks, construction of  a walkway to Wonderland Plaza, and support private development, including a new, 30-unit home for veterans.

“The Shirley Avenue area hasn’t gotten a lot of attention and we’re trying to make a concerted effort to make sure places that are dealing drugs are driven out,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo. “The only way it will be attractive to investors and inviting to the public is if we clean it up, and make it a place people want to go.”

The grant, the mayor said, will be used to rebuild the district and provide a foundation for private economic development in the neighborhood.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration has awarded more than $7 million to Revere through the competitive grant program.

Last fall, Baker delivered a $3.6 million MassWorks grant to transform the shuttered Shaw’s supermarket on Revere Beach Parkway into 220 apartments and a 132-room hotel.

“Programs like MassWorks fuel the momentum happening in Revere, benefiting residents, visitors, and small businesses in the Shirley Avenue neighborhood,” Baker said to a crowd gathered at the Bagel Bin Deli on Shirley Avenue Thursday. “We continue to work closely with our local partners to advance important projects like this one that drive development and prosperity in our communities.”

The latest grant comes on the heels of an arrest last month of a Winthrop man after police seized $725,000 in cash and 2 kilograms of cocaine. Police alleged the suspect was dealing drugs in Revere.

Dubbed “Operation Waterfront,” it was established by law enforcement to target drug dealing in bars along Shirley Avenue and in the Revere Beach area.  

But for the past two years, Revere and the Shirley Avenue Working Group have cooperated with MassDevelopment, the state’s development bank, to improve the section of the city which serves as the gateway to Revere Beach.

The MassWorks Infrastructure Program makes grants to municipalities for street projects that generate additional private sector investment.

The city will use the cash to make street and sidewalk improvements on six streets, and add trees and lighting to improve pedestrian safety and walkability.

“The effectiveness of MassWorks and the reason that it has been successful at unlocking development is the program’s ability to support projects across a range of sizes and scope,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “Each year we fund high-quality, shovel-ready projects, and this year is no exception.”

Baker said since 2015, his administration has awarded more than $274 million to 134 projects in 106 communities statewide, spurring the development of 2 million square feet of commercial space, 7,000 apartments, 7,000 square feet of new public space, and 1,200 new hotel rooms and commercial space.

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