ZBA Approves Variances for 11-Story Research Building

The Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved the variances and special permit for the construction of an 11-story research and development building at the Floramo’s Restaurant site at 213 Everett Avenue on Tuesday night. However, the approvals do not necessarily mean the end of the popular Floramo’s Restaurant. The project, which has a construction cost of $267 million, has already won the support of the city administration and several city councilors. Doug Medvetz, the principal from developer Verdynt, said it will likely take three years before the project is completed and ready for occupancy. “The city strongly supports this project,” said City Manager Thomas Ambrosino. He said the project is exactly the kind of major commercial development it wants to see in its commercial districts. Ambrosino said the project will provide good paying jobs for the community and provide numerous economic benefits for Chelsea. City Council President Roy Avellaneda said the project will be the first one that falls under the city’s new community mitigation guidance, and could bring in over $4 million in linkage fees for Chelsea, money that can be used for any number of community improvements. The 150-foot plus building will include three stories of parking within the building above grade rather than underground because of water table and soil issues. Avellaneda said that while some people have raised concerns about the height of the building, he said it was consistent with surrounding development and that having the parking within the building was preferable to having it surrounded by a large parking lot. While the project details have been hashed out over a number of public board meetings over the past months, the biggest news of the night might have been the revelation that the new building might not necessarily mean the end of a decades-long run for Floramo’s Restaurant. Part of the proposal by Verdynt includes school science space, a conference room, and a restaurant open to the public on the first floor. “I know they didn’t speak about this, but they have encouraged and asked Floramo’s to stay on,” said Avellaneda. “Now, whether or not the Floramo family wants to stay is a separate agreement, but they have offered.” Medvetz confirmed that there have been talks with the Floramo family about how they could successfully return to 213 Everett Ave. after construction is completed. “I’ve gotten to know John Floramo quite well, we have had numerous conversations, he’s the son,” said Medvetz. “There is a strong interest in them coming back, it’s just a matter of logistics.” The biggest concern for the Floramo family is what happens to the current staff when the restaurant closes during construction, Medvetz said. “He doesn’t want to open with a different staff,” he said. “He is working on an alternative strategy to keep the staff together at a different restaurant during construction. That is the biggest challenge and that is going to be in flux throughout the entire project.” Medvetz said he would love to see Floramo’s return once the new building is open. “They are great people and we have had great communication with them throughout the entire process,” he said. “We are leaving it up to them. Based on everything that is going on in this area with the apartments and the development, there are going to be many restaurants that want to fill that space, but we are reserving it for them if they want to do that.”

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