On Monday, October 28th, Mayor Carlo DeMaria will present to the City Council at a Joint Committee meeting, the new Lower Broadway Economic Development District Zoning. This new zoning is needed to support the proposed Wynn Everett LLC development, and is designed to establish updated land use regulations for much of the Lower Broadway neighborhood in a manner consistent with present day uses. The zoning provides for the future development of a mix of uses along Route 99, designed to complement the City’s desired vision for the neighborhood, as expressed by the public and outlined in the Lower Broadway Master Plan.
Present-day zoning for nearly the entire Lower Broadway neighborhood is Industrial, permitting a spectrum of uses with limited to no oversight or review through a public process. As a result, the current zoning has created a neighborhood with a patchwork of uses and users, most of which are inconsistent with each other and have negatively impacted both the residential properties located within the area as well as the image of one of the City’s primary gateway districts. Under existing rules, new development is permitted with virtually no oversight or protections for existing residents and property owners.
The new proposed Lower Broadway zoning is designed to remedy the inadequacies of the existing zoning by creating a series of standards and oversight requirements that encourages a high quality of private development in a manner that mitigates impacts on existing properties. Further, the new zoning is based off of the vision outlined in the Lower Broadway Master Plan, which was created through a highly inclusive public process in 2012.
One of the primary reasons for the creation of the new zoning is the City’s obligations under the voter approved Host Community Agreement between the City and Wynn MA LLC, which requires zoning to be amended to allow for a gaming facility. As such, the proposed new zoning will, among other things, permit the development of a Resort Casino consistent with the proposal by Wynn MA, LLC.
However, there are many other reasons and benefits for why the proposed zoning is desired to be adopted at this time. The zoning would provide more options for current and future landowners in the district to re-use or redevelop their properties consistent with local desires through a predictable permitting process. The zoning is designed to attract new private investment to the area by ensuring that all development in the area is consistent with abutting properties and future land uses. Finally, the new proposed zoning provides greater protections for existing residential uses and properties from future development, through minimum standards for screening, landscaping, lighting and parking, which are currently lacking from the existing zoning. Any existing uses are also protected under the new zoning as grandfathered uses, and can exist in perpetuity regardless of property ownership.
The Lower Broadway District is evolving, changing and renewing itself. The district is envisioned to be a vibrant mixed-use urban neighborhood that serves as a gateway to Everett from Boston, which is better connected to Everett Square and the City as a whole. As the private market dynamics of the region continue to evolve, the proposed new zoning will ensure that the Lower Broadway District becomes a highlight of how best to encourage the right type and high standard of private investment.