ZBA Approves Innes Development, Marijuana Facility on Eastern Ave.

It was a big night at the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) Tuesday night for three big projects that have been sitting in the city’s development pipeline for some time.

The Innes Development; a 62-unit affordable housing project on Sixth St. from The Neighborhood Developers (TND); and a marijuana cultivation and retail facility on Eastern Avenue all gained ZBA approvals during a packed meeting at the senior center.

The approval of the Innes Development was the closest to being a formality. Earlier this year, the city approved a 40R smart growth overlay zone for the Central Avenue site. The ZBA simply had to agree that the proposal met the conditions laid out for the overlay zone.

The Corcoran Company is working with the Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) to replace the existing 96 CHA affordable housing units on the site. In addition, there will be 40 income-restricted units and 196 market-rate units in the 300,000 square-foot mixed-use, mixed-income development.

The 40R designation allows for the mixed-use development in an area near public transportation provided at least 20 percent of the housing units are offered at affordable rates, according to Chelsea Planning Director John DePriest. The Innes project comes in with an affordable housing rate of just under 30 percent.

The city is also getting a nice financial payout from the 40R Innes Development.

“Funds will be coming, there will be $350,000 up front, and $3,000 per unit to the city,” said Jen Corcoran of The Corcoran Company. In total, the approval of the 40R overlay district and the Innes Development will bring about $1.3 million into the city coffers.

“I wholeheartedly support this project,” said City Manager Thomas Ambrosino. “I hope that this will be a model statewide for how to redevelop public housing units.”

Groundbreaking for the Innes Development should take place in the fall of 2020, with completion in January or February of 2022, Corcoran said.

•The TND project at 25 Sixth St. will consist of 56 rental units, split between deed restrictions for people who make 30 percent, 60 percent, and 100 percent of the area’s Annual Median Income. Six of the units will be townhouses offered up for home ownership.

The project will also connect Sixth Street to the Silver Line and improve the streetscape along Sixth Street, according to TND Director of Real Estate Development Steve Laferriere.

This project did need zoning relief for parking, with only 40 parking spaces for the 62 units.

“I think that this location next to the Silver Line will encourage people to be able to live without a car,” said Laferriere. In addition, he said the development is close by five other bus lines, as well as City Hall, shopping, playgrounds, and other services.

Several residents at the public hearing did raise concerns about traffic and parking. But Laferriere said TND would be willing to restrict residents from applying for the city’s on-street parking program to help ease parking concerns.

Several city officials spoke in favor of the project.

“I’m here to support TND and support this project,” said City Councillor Enio Lopez.

Ambrosino also spoke in favor of the project, stating it meets the pressing need for affordable housing in the city and provides affordable home ownership opportunities.

“The city is in full support of this project,” he said.

Several residents who live in other TND developments spoke of the need for affordable housing in the city, and representatives from GreenRoots and Massachusetts General Hospital also offered their support for TND.

•The ZBA unanimously approved the special permit for the Harbor House Collective, a marijuana retail, manufacturing, and cultivation business at 80 Eastern Ave.

The building is currently a wholesale flower operation owned by the Londono family. The Londono family will continue to operate the flower business at a new location, while converting the 80 Eastern Ave. warehouse to a 20,000-square-foot marijuana facility.

Gabriel Londono, one of the principals behind the project, said the new business will feature improved landscaping and a dramatic decrease in truck traffic in the area. Currently, up to 50 trucks per day come in and out of the flower warehouse.

Since all the marijuana sold in the retail shop will be grown and cultivated onsite, Londono said the delivery traffic will be cut down to one or two trucks per week.

Londono said the facility will also bring good jobs to the city, with a minimum of 50 percent of the jobs going to Chelsea residents, and a minimum starting pay of $15 per hour, which is above the minimum wage.

There were several minor changes to the plan since it was presented to the ZBA last month, including the installation of a sidewalk along Bellingham Street and some improved landscaping.

ZBA member Joseph Mahoney asked if any of the marijuana grown onsite would be shipped to other locations.

Londono said that while the state license they have applied for allows for up to 30 percent of the product they grow to be sold wholesale, he said he believes that all the marijuana they grow will be sold at 80 Eastern Ave.

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