City Seeks to Make Sweeeping Changes to Chelsea Creek Waterfront

Vast changes could soon be coming to the heavily-industrial Chelsea Creek waterfront on Marginal Street as the City and state begin a process later this month of potentially changing the boundaries of the Creek’s Designated Port Area (DPA).

The City petitioned the state Energy and Environmental Affairs office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) to change the boundaries of the DPA, a zone that prevents traditional non-water dependent development from happening. A DPA requires any development in the zone to be for direct marine uses or supplementary marine services.

The state has advertised the change this week in its online publication ‘Environmental Monitor’ and has set up a public meeting at Chelsea City Hall on March 31 at 6 p.m. Any change would likely take at least six months of research and due diligence.

Sources close to the situation said a change in the boundary would likely pave the way for a plan to develop hotels, restaurants and housing on the sites near the Chelsea Street Bridge. That would correspond with the Marginal Street Corridor plan that has been floated around for several months within inner circles.

Two sources close to the matter indicated that well-known hotel developers have plans – if the boundary is changed – to build a hotel on the site on the water right next to the Chelsea Street Bridge – where hundreds of rental cars are now parked. That property, marked by a large cement-block and brick wall, would be the newest location for a hotel, it was said.

Other plans include luxury apartments or condos on the other side of the street where surface lots of rental cars are now parked.

Both plans could not be developed unless the properties were moved out of the DPA, as they are now within the zone.

Councillor Giovanni Recupero, who represents the area (District 6), said he isn’t against such sweeping change, but he would also like to see residents in his district benefit from any prosperity on the waterfront.

“Change is good in some ways, but change has to include the people who live there now,” he said. “Are they going to get to participate in this prosperity? I would like the residents of District 6 to get priority on any new jobs that all of this might bring. I’m going to be calling for a majority of the jobs – maybe even 70 percent of the jobs – to go to qualified residents of District 6.”

Roseann Bongiovanni of Chelsea Greenspace, which advocates for water access and parks, said they will be calling for a extensive planning process conducted by the City after the state process concludes and new boundaries are potentially drawn.

“The City should launch a master planning process for the Creek with significant community involvement,” she said. “That is what we will advocate for.”

A public comment period has been established for the upcoming review and will end on April 10 at 5 p.m. Comments can be sent to: Office of Coastal Zone Management; Attn: Brad Washburn, Assistant Director; 251 Causeway St., Suite 800; Boston, MA 02114-2136

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