Developing Downtown

-By Joshua Resnek

Lynn is the only city I know of from here to East Boston and including Chelsea, where major downtown properties remain hopelessly empty with for sale signs posted on them.

On Andrew Street, 3 years ago, there was a major fire that took down about half a city block.

It stands today perfectly empty. Perfectly unused. Perfectly depicting the plight of efforts to redo the downtown.

In another location not too far away and arguably a part of the downtown, there is another magnificent empty space, perhaps 35,000 square feet.

On Broad Street, about 50 yards away from the point where the old Hotel Edison intersects with Exchange Street, there is another enormous vacant  lot where, unless I am mistaken, the old Walter Dyer Leather works was located in one of those giant turn of the century brick warehouse buildings which was ultimately torn down.

Here are two examples of magnificent open space in the downtown begging to be bought and to be developed.These two properties are monuments to inaction and to the lack of inventiveness.

Here’s where the city needs to bring Mass Development in.

Mass Development has the money to lend.

Here’s the where the mayor – because she is the city’s leader – can put to use her skills and get two developers to become interested in coming here and then provide them with a reason to come here, which is money and a tax break.

I’m sure the mayor understands no one will develop here without a tax break.

And I’m sure the mayor hasn’t given either of these two lots an ounce of thought because she is too pre-occupied by the upcoming budget, which for all her interest and care, will be all about something smaller this coming year than last.

Back to the downtown.

The downtown needs a concerted, over the top effort – perhaps a panel of key developers talking among themselves and banking and business officials who have an idea about how the downtown of Lynn can come back to life.

Lynn needs some development leadership.

It needs entrepreneurial leadership tied into development of empty spaces and the downtown, for better or worse, any way you look at it, is dead on arrival.

Other cities like East Boston and Chelsea have almost completely turned themselves around despite having enormous populations of poverty stricken people who can’t read or write in the English language.

By that yardstick, Lynn is far better off than either of those two places.

Yet nothing is happening here.

It didn’t happen when the economy was good. It certainly isn’t happening when the economy is in a post recession condition.

Lynn’s downtown is perfect for development and re-doing. But someone has to come up with a workable idea, a real plan, something that resonates with developers and government officials.

And then someone has to be found to pull the trigger and to make it happen.

Today’s Lynn downtown is a success waiting to happen. It is a development waiting to come alive.

The downtown is about emptiness. This doesn’t mean I hate Lynn or that I don’t think it’s a great place.

Writing such a piece doesn’t mean I’m not with the mayor or her development people.

My general sense is that everyone having to do with development is asleep here. There are no dreams that are going to be achieved because no one around here has any to begin with.

We don’t need a knockout punch. We need to win two or three rounds and then to go on for a much longer fight.

The empty lots in downtown Lynn with for sale signs on them tell a story about emptiness.

It is not ironic that the downtown remains an empty place.


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