Transiting From A Polluted Mess To Triumph
By Josh Resnek
The Davis Companies is well on its way to becoming the shepherd and overseer of the single largest construction and development effort in Everett’s history.
In its optimistic planned configuration if everything goes as planned, it will be a larger development than the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor Hotel and Casino.
When completed sometime during the present decade or close to the end of it, there will be millions upon millions of square feet of new space developed for house residences, tech companies, and manufacturers with an exotic mix of housing, retail and industrial uses.
What exactly the final configuration will be is unknown at this moment.
Massive amounts of capital must be raised, a huge mitigation of 100 years of pollution has to be accomplished, and a cavalcade of rules, regulations, agreements between the city, the state and the federal government are to be arrived at in order for this ambitious project to work.
Davis Companies has not yet purchased the site, which is expected to be conveyed to the development firm for somewhere between $350 million and $500 million by Exxon Mobil in the near future.
This wholly industrial neighborhood of Everett has been used as a fuel tank farm for longer than a half century.
During the past few weeks, The Davis Companies has been sharing its preliminary plans for the ExxonMobil property. The Boston-based developer recently secured an agreement to buy the heavily contaminated site — technically several connected parcels, stretching from Sweetser Circle at the intersection of routes 99 and 16, down to the Mystic River waterfront, according to the Boston Globe.
Davis essentially is approaching the project as two distinct sections: a residential area, at the northern corner near Sweetser Circle, where apartments and ground-floor retail would be built, and an industrial area through the center of the property around Beacham Street, to feature warehouses as well as high-tech and life sciences manufacturing. The company envisions up to 2.4 million square feet that could be built relatively quickly under existing zoning, and another 2 million square feet or more that would evolve over time with the right market conditions and zoning changes. Davis has not yet disclosed plans for the property’s waterfront area, the Globe wrote in a story published August 21.
Davis has also made several presentations locally, including a city hall audio visual glimpse into the near future given by executives from the company to the city council – which was broadcast on ECTV.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria is among those who hope the Davis redevelopment can be the impetus to finally extend the Silver Line rapid bus service into Everett and maybe even prompt a train station to be built there. Tracks for the MBTA’s Newburyport/Rockport line traverse Everett near the Exxon Mobil property, but there are no stops in the city, wrote the Globe.
However, recent difficulties with the T seem to indicate extending rapid transit into Everett may be a pipe dream.
“One of the most critical components of this project is the chance for us to attract new commercial businesses and job opportunities for our residents,” DeMaria said to the Globe about the Davis project. “I also think that the size and scale of this type of development will help force the state to move forward with using federal dollars available to it for the public transit improvements that I have been advocating for over the past several years.”
Davis officials want to start with a 1 million-square-foot first phase with three building — 300 to 350 apartments in one, warehouse storage in a second, and advanced manufacturing in the third. (Davis is currently developing a warehouse next door, rumored to be for Amazon.)
At full buildout, Davis sees the potential for more than 4 million square feet of development taking place, including apartment towers and public green space — as well as labs and biomanufacturing, in part aimed at life sciences companies headquartered a short drive away in Cambridge.
“We don’t think this is your grandfather’s industrial park — buildings with solid block walls and you don’t know what’s going on inside the buildings,” Cantalupa said. “The buildings and the architecture need to be attractive.”