The long-vacant storefront on Broadway that used to house the Salvation Army store has gone out to bid this week and will soon have some movement on choosing a developer to build-out the City-owned, and key, downtown property.
City Planner Alex Train said the City has put out the RFP on the property at 440 Broadway and had a site walk with potential respondents Tuesday morning. Bids on the property are due April 29, and Train said he expects to get some very good proposals to choose from.
“We’re engaging in a pretty robust promotional and advertising campaign to elevate the regional knowledge of the opportunity,” he said. “We’re hoping to get a lot of good information out there and we’re optimistic it will yield a number of high-quality proposals.”
He said they have begun to form an Evaluation Committee on the matter, and predicted by the end of May they will have the developer selected. Then they will forward it to the City Council for review and approvals.
The development is seen by the City as a way to really get momentum going for development in downtown Chelsea. In a key location in busy Bellingham Square, the property has already gone through the approval process – thus saving lots of time and money for any developer that wins the bid.
What has been approved is a 16-unit, five story new building with podium parking for eight spots. There is also to be 5,000 sq. ft. of retail on the ground floor. If a developer were to come in and want to propose a different project, they would have to go through the approval process again.
“We did all the approvals before the RFP and got the development ready in hopes it would translate into more affordable housing and a higher-quality product,” Train said.
The City will be looking for an all-affordable, or a majority-affordable, project with ground floor retail and community uses. For the retail, he said they are looking for something creative, maybe even a continuation of the gallery that is there now, but certainly not a chain store.
“We don’t want something that could just be in any downtown in America,” Train said.