Long before the Silver Line came to town or Chelsea became hot property, Mike and Alec Vienneau looked at the prospects in Chelsea and decided to stake a claim to their development business here.
In 2005, Broadway Capital bought its first property on Hawthorne Street, a four-unit property that started their business here. Now, with more than 180 units – some 90 percent of them in Chelsea – they have carved out a niche here and are now embarking on their largest project yet, transforming the former Broadway nursing home into a 33-unit apartment community.
“One of the big reasons I bought in Chelsea was I wanted to also live here,” Mike said. “I grew up in Medford and lived here for about four years before I moved to Saugus. It’s been a huge change here since we started. Everything from the local city government that changed and the infrastructure and property values that have gone up. It’s a very dynamic community and I see it improving further.”
That’s why he and his brother embarked on developing the Nursing Home, which had fallen into disfavor and eventually closed down last summer. Late last week, they closed on the property and now have taken ownership of it.
The project has been approved by the Zoning Board, but they still have a trip to the Site Plan Review process at the Planning Board. Already, they have begun removing things in the Nursing Home – securing the site and getting rid of equipment that isn’t necessary.
In addition to the residential units, they also plan to build out their office on the first floor, and add four full-time jobs as they expand there.
“The location is great,” he said. “We loved that it was right on the bus route. Also, the bones of the building are great. It was built in 1992 so the electrical and systems were in pretty good condition.”
The project is a rarity in the City, that being an ownership opportunity with six affordable units at 80 percent AMI.
“There was a big push from the Chelsea Homeowners’ Association for ownership,” he said. “We heard them. We met with them and presented the project and they do support it…It’s the largest condo development in a decade. We think it will also be affordable to a lot of people in Chelsea. With the average unit in the $300,000 to $400,000 range, it’s doable. The rental payment for an apartment would be comparable to a mortgage payment. That’s why we believe this project is special.”
Their time in Chelsea, however, has not come without some bumps.
Recently, a group of Chelsea Collaborative members protested the company on some tenant issues.
Vienneau said they are being proactive on the issue and are looking at the building on Orange Street where he said the issue originates from.
“We want to work with the Collaborative and think and we are meeting with them and respect what they do in the community,” Mike said. “We think we can work that out.”
In the future, after the Nursing Home project is underway, Vienneau said they are very interested in other opportunities in Chelsea – particularly in the downtown.
Already, they participate in the Downtown Task Force and look forward to seeing the downtown transform.
“I think one opportunity coming up is the Salvation Army building,” he said. “I think that is a great opportunity for 16 units and a commercial space. That development could really shape the area. That’s one really big development coming down the pike. We are interesting in looking at that next as a potential project.”