Thursday, April 1, 2010

All Care VNA: Why is It So Complicated?

While it's the wrong thing in the wrong spot, I'm getting more and more worried that we're going to settle for this just so something worse doesn't happen on that parcel.

So while I thought this was a done deal, it really isn't. I spoke with Councilor Phelan today and he explained exactly what the vote would be on April 13th.  Basically, the land is light industrial and owned by the MBTA. The MBTA put this out for bid, and All Care VNA was the only bidder. I have no idea how much the bid was or how public the notice was.  The fact that the land is light industrial means the MBTA could sell it to a business with that use in mind. Apparently, the city can't just rezone one parcel of land. This would be illegal.  I joked with Phelan, that if the city could they'd probably re-zone my apartment building to get the bloggers out. He laughed....

So, it is up to the city to let All Care VNA use this light industrial zoned land for a "non-conforming use." We could say NO! We could say NO, but come back to us with a proposal that includes first floor retail and aligns more to our vision for Market Street and we'll have a deal. We could say those things, but we probably won't based on what I'm hearing.

The fear of the council seems to be, that if we decline this, the MBTA would put it back out for bid and we might end up with something that is light industrial without any need for city approvals.

Personally, I believe All Care VNA should build a new building and it should be over by where the grease plant burned down, or across from the Post Office.  We should take our chances and not allow this use of the Gateway to Market Street. We should put our energy behind rezoning a large portion of the downtown area that is still light industrial including that parcel and work towards getting the RIGHT thing in that spot. 

My final question to the city is why are we brought in on this after a year of planning? I haven't heard a voice from a downtown resident yet, in favor of this. I hope everyone understood the outcome of this year's election. It is clear, we don't want to be ignored anymore.

On that note, Brendan Crighton is putting together a neighborhood meeting on this topic. I think it will be next Monday or Tuesday night. Once the details are available I will let you know. He's listening. Some others are listening too. I'm just not sure they can hear us yet.

See you all at the neighborhood meeting (TBD) and on April 13th at City Hall.



  1. Thanks for bringing more details to light. I should have known there was more to the story, having been to countless public hearings in different communities for the last twelve years.

    I've learned that it's usually their way or the highway when you're dealing with the State. I see that the MBTA is a similar animal.

    Our best option is to form a positive relationship with Allcare if we want any chance of having a say on the project, assuming it goes ahead. And we can lose that kind of relationship if the land is auctioned off under current zoning, to another company. Or, the MBTA could just sit on it for who-knows how many more years, as they've done with empty property in Jamaica Plain.

    But the MBTA also did some good in JP. They leased a space in the Green St. station to an art gallery years ago, before that neighborhood turned around. It must have been a good deal for a small gallery to be able to afford it.

    Why don't they do that on the commercial floor of the garage in Lynn? What happened to the MBTA caring about the neighborhoods they serve?

    I hope we can have that meeting next week. A smart strategy would be to have small community meetings prior to the Council Meeting on April 13th. I think DTLna should meet beforehand, either way. I'm going to look at my calendar this evening.

  2. Yeah, I think without an alternative, the city is going to want to protect this spot and not trust that the MBTA will do right by us if we let it go back out to bid.

    I think I've been clear that my beef is not with All Care VNA. I think Shawn is a smart business man and knows how valuable this piece of land is to Lynn's future.

  3. Seth - Yes Heather got Axiom going in the MBTA space at a decent deal, but it's a different animal. It's small in size, but a pretty big deal. It's a fantastic gallery, and they have tremendous support from the community and function as a non-profit so they get grant $ and work in the schools and the like. With RAW and LynnArts here already, the addition of another non-profit art org would add difficulty on top of difficulties. Axiom is an amazing organization, but the public support, foundational funding, and partnerships (MIT, the Boston Art Schools, etc.) are assets they enjoy and help stabilize the organizational structure. A for profit space with a following ... that's another story for another time.

    We haven't seen the same degree of support from the local community to the degree that JP enjoys. Now, if the downtown vision plan was followed, and the downtown residences became stabilized through ownership, and there was political support that rang loud and clear, community support would build and we would see more happening in the arts as was originally envisioned when Steve started LynnArts and RAW opened in Central Square... But if we keep changing the game plan... People want to know what they are investing in. If downtown is going to be a full on non-profit medical district, call it by it's name.

    City Hall:
    Stick to the game plan, it's a good one, and those who have/want to invest and see downtown Lynn continue to move forward are counting on it!


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