From an economic development standpoint, the City of Lynn has firmly cemented itself in the development arena.
“Looking back on 2018, I feel like the pendulum swung in our favor,” said James Cowdell, executive director of the Lynn Economic Development and Industrial Corporation. “Today, the developers are now knocking on my door instead of us constantly chasing them.”
When you look at 2018 the city has $230 million in development projects planned for the future.
“People are realizing that Lynn is a good place to invest in,” Cowdell said. “That really bodes well for our future.”
Cowdell expects 2019 will be a huge year and he credits Mayor Thomas McGee with the formation of development meetings held every Tuesday with Charlie Gaeta, executive director of the Lynn Housing Authority and Jamie Marsh, community development director.
“It’s been refreshing to have a group like that meet on a weekly basis,” he said.
In 2019 the shovel will break ground on the waterfront finally. The old Beacon Chevrolet on the Lynnway, a 12-acre will be a $90 million project across from North Shore Community College and will bring housing to the area.
On Munroe Street at the site of the former community gardens, a history making 10-story, 255 apartment building is underway. The multi-million investment includes a 20,000 square foot commercial property with an anchor restaurant. Cowdell said he is proud it went from plans to shovel in the ground in seven months.
“We think next year is going to be really, really good for the city,” Cowdell said.
Cowdell added that planners working for the city are developing plans for the revision of the master waterfront plan, an open space plan that includes access to the water for all, and the revision of the municipal harbor plan.
In the overall commercial property picture there are still a glitch or two to work out. One such property is the old Athanas’ Hawthorne Restaurant property at 95 Oxford St. It’s been vacant for years.
“They (the Athanas’) pay their taxes,” Cowdell said of the property. “The city stays on top of the property regarding litter and the condition of the building. It’s an eyesore. The parking lot is 37,000 square foot. There’s development going on all around them.”
But the building at 95 Oxford St. remains vacant because of ground contamination from the old White’s Laundromat site on Willow Street. Cowdell said the contamination has spread to the Athanas’ property.
“That’s why they’re saying it can’t be developed, it’s a problem,” he said.
The Christie’s Restaurant property, owned by the Dean family, on the Nahant Rotary, is steps from the water and “again they pay their taxes.”
“We’ve had a lot of people who would like to buy the property. But the Dean family is looking more for a lease than to sell,” Cowdell said. “We continue to work on that. We did a hotel study to see where a hotel would work best in Lynn and it determined Christie’s would be a great place for a hotel. We’re working with the Dean family to get good development there.”
Cowdell said those waterfront developments could help to relaunch the ferry service from the brand new $7.5 million ferry terminal.
“The mayor and I are fighting everyday to get the ferry back.” Cowdell said. “Lynn is no longer a secret to the investment world. We have investors on a weekly basis knocking on our door inquiring about investing in the city of Lynn. Not only will 2019 be a good year, but beyond