Special to the Record
On Tuesday morning, December 29th 2020, the American flag flying atop the Massachusetts General Hospital Building at 151 Everett Avenue was lowered to half- mast. The first developer to take an outsized risk on the City after the great fire in 1973, Anthony C. Simboli, died early that morning. He was 91.
He is known far and wide in city circles dating back to the 1980’s as being driven, focused, fair, intelligent and a risk taker. Thankfully, for the city of Chelsea he chose to take a risk on the city, when almost no one would. To underscore this point, It took almost ten more years before another major risk on the City was taken by the Wyndham Hotel in 1991, now the Hilton Hotel.
He and his children, Anthony and Patricia, developed more than 14 parcels in the city from 1983-2016. The family held company, ACS Development Corporation, may be best known for relocating the Federal Bureau of Investigation from downtown Boston to the corner of Everett Avenue and Maple Street, an architectural gem of more than 275,000 sf, which lights up Route 1 every evening and brings hundreds to the city by day to eat, shop and stay in hotels.
ACS Development Corporation’s history of development started at 151 Everett Avenue in 1983, jumped to 160-180 Second Street in 1986, landed for some time, beginning from 1992 2000, at 80, 90 and what later was developed into 70 Everett Avenue, and known as Harbour Pointe Park. Its projects also included the refurbishment of the 105 Everett Avenue, the Fire Station, now known as Chelsea Station, 99 Fourth Street, the strip along the north side of Second Street, where Chelsea Clock was relocated and where Mass Truck and Tire once stood and 215 William Street, an abandoned poultry processing factory.
They bought properties from banks, the city, quasi- government agencies and other property owners. They did what they had to do to protect investments previously made. It was important in the early days of Chelsea’s emergence to control the surrounding properties in order to create an atmosphere of safety, beauty and opportunity. One project was not enough. There were no other developers or projects to create the momentum. They had to create it themselves, taking bigger and bigger risks. It took enormous effort to lure businesses to the city. The environment and the properties had to start to look and feel like other suburban and downtown properties. The City was the envy of other communities. In Anthony C. Simboli and ACS Development Corporation, it had a developer willing to invest and offer high quality, well designed buildings, provide conscientious management and long-term stable ownership.
Beyond its contribution to the built environment, the family has invested in the community in a number of different ways supporting ROCA in negotiating the acquisition of its current home, serving on the School Buildings Committee, creating the Simboli Family College Award for graduating Chelsea High School seniors which has reached more than 150 students, and contributing to the Chamber of Commerce, as well as numerous other non- profits.
But most of all, it cannot be too boldly stated how valuable it was to have a respected advocate, promotor, believer, loyal, disciplined, and patient investor in our small community of 1.8 square miles. The commercial tax base was built up; an example for what was possible was proven; and the way was paved the way for the hotels, retail modernization, and residential projects. Without a fight, the firm gave up land to make the Silver Line possible for the residents and businesses of Chelsea.
Always willing to participate in the community, ever promoting and bringing Chelsea to the attention of major corporations, and quietly continuing to support the young people and other needs of the residents, the founder of ACS Development Corporation, Anthony C. Simboli, is a true hero and favored son of the city of Chelsea. He will be missed at Chelsea Zoning Board meetings. His passion and drive for the city and for himself to do the right thing always led to positive outcomes for his proposed projects. We look to his children, Patricia and Anthony, to continue to carry on in his standards of excellence. There has not been as bold a champion, who patiently waited and committed to the City for as long and as deeply, as Tony Simboli. An eternal optimist, a lover of people and a believer in location, he turned out to be right over and over again. We are grateful to him for his love of Chelsea, trust in its Government, and respect for the good people who loved the City and encouraged him to take a risk such as Val Kowalski, Leo Robinson and others. A piece of Chelsea’s history is lost but his properties are a lasting legacy.