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Lynn City Council grants extension to proposed Silsbee Street mixed use development

A rendering of Silsbee Street development in Lynn. (Courtesy Photo)

LYNN — A Marblehead development team has been given one last chance to redevelop a dilapidated building on Silsbee Street into a mixed-use structure with market-rate apartments and a grocery store.

The City Council opted on Tuesday night to grant a one-year extension to Illy, LLC, after the company’s two-year special permit for the project expired.

But the Council also voted to grant no more extensions on the special permit, and stipulated that if the developers were to sell the property, the special permit could not be sold along with it.

The new developer, in the event of a sale, would have to come before the City Council for a new special permit.

The City Council had previously approved the $20 million project in June 2016.

“This is what was approved,” said Ward 1 City Councilor Wayne Lozzi. “We expected it to be done. We’ll grant this one, but I don’t think we should be in the business of granting extension after extension. I think the one-year is reasonable and I think that gives him sufficient time and notice that, that would be it in my opinion.”

Yuriy Blyakhman and Alex Zelfond said they plan to tear down the dilapidated building at 50 Silsbee St., which has been vacant for years, and construct a six-story building with 115 market rate apartments and more than 21,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor, which would be for a grocery store, which sells international food and is geared toward Russian and Eastern European customers.

The development would include 90 one-bedroom apartments and 25 studios, with some of those studios also including a den. The apartments would be priced monthly at $1,600, $1,110 and $1,350 respectively, Zelfond said. There would also be on-site parking for more than 40 vehicles.

Zelfond said they were initially only planning to build a grocery store on the property, but city officials suggested the best use of the land would be to put market-rate apartments there. Illy, LLC also has similar grocery stores in Brookline, Newton, Allston, and Framingham.

Illy, LLC purchased the Silsbee Street property from Vlahos Brothers Inc., in 2013 for $380,000. The property is assessed at $393,800 and the warehouse-style building was built in 1950, according to land records.

Blyakhman wrote in a correspondence to the City Council that the development team was asking for an extension because “unfortunately, the process of completing construction documentation, arranging construction/permanent financing, and undertaking the requisite pre-construction due diligence process, it has taken us longer than we anticipated.”

Zelfond said they don’t intend to sell the property.

“Of course, the extension allows us more time to work on the project,” he said. “We’re very grateful to the city for their support.”

City Council President Darren Cyr said the developers needed another year to secure funding for the project. Initially, he said they were trying to go through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for financing, but that didn’t work out, so now the team is trying to fund the project themselves.

Ward 4 City Councilor Richard Colucci, who represents the area where the development would be, said the existing old and dilapidated building is located in a junkyard. He said the Vlahos Brothers used to operate out of the building delivering chicken wings and chicken fingers, but went out of business years ago.

Colucci said he’s in favor of the project, as he thinks “it’ll be a beautiful thing to happen” on the vacant site.

“We should give the guy a break,” Colucci said. “We’re going to give him another shot to get it right this time.”

The developers said construction is expected to begin next March, with occupancy anticipated for the summer of 2020.

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