Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What Market Street Vision Plan?

The land in question on the corner of Market and Broad is state owned land, which has been sold to the only bidder, All Care VNA. It is the opinion of this blog, that this decision was the wrong one. If it's a done deal, it's a done deal, but the City and State need to recognize that this undoes a lot of the progress we've made over the past 4 years.  

Not too long ago, our state invested in a nice little study of our Downtown area which produced a Market Street Vision Plan. It's actually very well done.

On Slide 18 they explain the Framework from which alternatives would be considered, there are 8 points on the slide, corresponding to 8 areas of Downtown. Here they are:

1. Market Street: Reinforce Market St as a vital retail street w/ active ground floor uses such as retail/commercial with mixed use on upper floors.

2. The Triangles: Create a more unified district of mixed uses by infilling key sites with new development, renovating buildings, and enhancing the streetscape

3. Gateways: Better utilize gateway opportunities to reinforce downtown identity

4. "Market Square Development" Attract signature mixed use development to downtown.

5. Broad Street: Create a strong street edge and enhanced corridor deifnition.

6. Central Square: Support/enhance the existing vitality of Central square

7. Munroe St. Support and enhance the existing character of the district

8. Civic Uses: Support Civic Uses and events in the downtown area.

To be fair, the All Care VNA building hits on area 1 and 3 directly. So, let's take these points one by one.

1. I almost felt insane as I was writing number 1 above. No retail, no active ground use, no mixed use. To top it all off, let's place a fence around it to make it even less of a welcoming space.  Let's not forget they are leaving their current 2nd floor space on Market (a perfect use of that property).

3. Gateway should reinforce downtown identity....  I guess if we have embraced this, then Downtown identity shall be defined as "Health Care"  or "The Medical District" or "Nursing Capital of the North Shore." Any of those have the ring we're looking for as a label for our downtown?

OK.... let's skip on over to slide 34 for a second....

This would be the "Action plan" of the Market Street Vision Plan. In case everything else was too difficult to read, I assume most in City Hall at least read this page. And to be fair, there are some at City Hall who are quietly on our side on this. I'm hoping they get louder....soon!!!

So.... primary goal of the vision plan is to enhance property values within the downtown study area. I'm sure you all can't wait to let your real estate agents know that we now have an expanding Health Center on Union, Willow Labs, and our very own VNA. If that doesn't up those property values and rents, I don't know what will!

Point 1 on the short-term action plan deals with a zoning change. I believe this is really what the city is voting on on Tuesday April 13th. Changing this area from industrial to whatever is necessary to put All Care there.  The recommendation of the plan is to upgrade the retail and commercial presence along Market and Washington Streets. It's funny, I don't see anything in this plan about developing Downtown into a medical ward. Maybe I missed a chapter?

You can read it for yourself, but be warned..... The more you dig in to this one, the angrier you're going to get. I think our State let us down by selling to the first bidder.  Will our City continue to let Downtown Lynn slip out of our grasp?

Bedtime reading, anyone?



  1. I like the history of Lynn which I can also see becoming its great future. I believe bringing it back will bring back the greatness...
    like the outdoor theater on the Lynnway, venues, roller coaster rides (amusement park), a place of recreation for Boston and others to visit Lynn. Vacation land. Shops and galleries at storefront levels. streets with character. None of these are new ideas. & take back a part of the streets away from cars again.
    we can have mixed use districts as long as we maintain the uses of the ground and maybe 2nd floor levels. I have no interest what happens at the upper levels of buildings, as long as it isn't biohazard, and as long as the ground levels have something for everyone. Am I too simple?

  2. The reason for a lot of new construction.

    Actually it is cheaper to build a new building tailored to their specs. One would think rehabbing another building would be cheaper but often is more costly.
    You see this all over. I was baffled at first at the concept but the more you talk to builders the more common it is.
    Of course since they are a nonprofit cost if a factor. (ie handicap accessible, etc)

    It seems to be common with schools too.
    Look at the new school in Swampscott. It was cheaper to build a new one than fix the old.
    These buildings are built so quickly...

  3. true Stacey.
    looking for vna post?

  4. Yeah Stacey. Totally agreed, I just wish it was a new building in a different area or on that parcel with something that matched the vision of Market Street's future on the first floor.


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