LYNNFIELD — It’s lights out for a movie theater.
Less than three weeks before Town Meeting was set to vote on the proposed eight-screen cinema at MarketStreet, the popular open-air mall off Route 128, the developer has pulled the plug.
In a letter to the Board of Selectmen Tuesday, Ted Tye, managing partner at National Development, co-owner of the 658,000-square-foot shopping center that features more than 80 shops and restaurants, said the decision to withdraw plans for the 800-seat complex was a difficult one.
“In the end, we believe it is an unfortunate outcome for Lynnfield and MarketStreet,” Tye wrote. “Our application was delayed for a year to allow the MarketStreet Advisory Committee to study the project. Waiting another year, as suggested by some, would yield no new information.”
Tye thanked Selectmen Philip Crawford and Chairman Richard Dalton for what he called their continuing efforts to work for the best interests of the community.
He failed to mention Selectman Christopher Barrett, who had asked the panel to wait a year, as the Advisory Committee had recommended, to see the results of traffic from the Lahey Health Urgent Care Center. The two-story, 41,000-square-foot brick building houses the clinic and retail on the ground floor, and medical office upstairs.
In its report, the MarketStreet Advisory Committee wrote the traffic impact of the new facility needs to be assessed.
“This can only be done after it is open, fully leased, and operational for a period of at least one year,” the report said. “To do otherwise will deprive the town of that information necessary to make an informed assessment of its impact.”
The debate over the theater proposal had become contentious, as Tye acknowledged.
“One of the things we said when we came before the board several months ago was we hoped the discourse could occur in a constructive manner,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, the idea of civil discourse was not embraced by all. Misrepresentations, inaccuracies and name calling by several vocal opponents will, without doubt, contribute to a poor long-term result for the town.”
National Development’s withdrawal came as it appeared they lacked the two-thirds required to win approval by voters.
The Newton developer had vowed to spend $7 million to satisfy traffic, access, and parking issues if the proposed cinema was approved including a smart signal system, Route 128 ramp improvements, a parking garage and contribution to Lynnfield’s park improvements.