ZBA holds initial hearing on Eastern Avenue warehouse facility

The years-long plan to develop a nearly 19-acre industrial parcel at 295 Eastern Ave. are now coming before city boards for approvals.

The Zoning Board of Appeals held its initial public hearing Tuesday night on 295 Eastern Chelsea, LLC’s plans to build a 114,000 light manufacturing and warehouse facility on the property. In addition to the single-story building with 17 loading docks, the developers also plan to provide public access to Chelsea Creek and to wildlife areas on the property. The project will be before the Planning Board later this month for its recommendations, and then back before the ZBA on Oct. 11 for a potential vote on a special permit. “The two existing buildings were built in 1960, and there is one from 1996 for automotive use,” said Jay Eigerman, an attorney representing the developers. “Historically, this was a petroleum storage area, but all the tanks were removed some time ago.”

In addition to the local permits, Eigerman said the project also needs various state environmental and water quality permits to proceed. He said the project was issued a state environmental policy act certificate after an environmental impact report was completed in August.

“Right now, this is a use area that is wholly industrial that is not open to the public, even though it is on Chelsea Creek,” said Eigerman. “We have designed public access that goes around the entire perimeter of the site, not just on the shoreline, but through a pathway so people can get on the site at Eastern Avenue.” The building itself will contain three warehouse or light manufacturing spaces with office space of about 38,000 square feet each. Eigerman emphasized that it will not be a freight forwarding facility like some of the larger Amazon facilities.

“I know 114,000 square feet sounds large, but these big Amazon freight forwarding facilities are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of square feet,” said Eigerman, who added that the development is speculative in nature and that no tenants have signed onto the project at this point. “It’s actually warehouse space that gets priced out by the big boys like Amazon that we are trying to capture.”

There are 133 parking spaces proposed for the facility, including public parking for the access to the waterfront. Of those spaces, over 30 will be electric vehicle charging stations.

The project will bring a number of financial benefits to Chelsea, the attorney said, including an estimated increase of $105,000 in property taxes annually and a one-time linkage fee to the city of over $1 million.

In addition to the development of the public access area along the Chelsea Creek, landscape architect Dan Adams said there will be outdoor classrooms and nature areas on the property for use by the public and students.

According to the project’s traffic consultant, the project will generate about 480 daily trips into and out of the Eastern Avenue site.

ZBA Chair Janice Tatarka said the next time developers are before the ZBA, she would like to see a more detailed plan for how traffic, especially large trucks, will maneuver on the site. The owners of the neighboring property at 305 Eastern Ave. have also raised concerns about the drainage system, noting that they have an easement on the property that allows them to tie into the drainage lines that go through 295 Eastern Ave.

Eigerman said 305 Eastern Ave. has no property rights to drain on 295 Eastern Ave., but that the developers have been working with the owners of that property about the possibility of a drainage tie-in.

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