Developer set to buy 95-acre tank farm site near Encore casino in Everett

Developer set to buy 95-acre tank farm site near Encore casino in Everett

Developer set to buy 95-acre tank farm site near Encore casino in Everett
A massive power plant across the street from Encore Casino in Everett and neighboring gas tanks owned by ExxonMobil are slated for redevelopment over the next few years in a move that promises to remake the industrial area on Boston’s northern doorstep.DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF

Prominent Boston developer The Davis Companies has reached an agreement to buy a roughly 100-acre tank farm in Everett from ExxonMobil, positioning one of the largest available development sites near Boston for a sprawling mixed-use project.

Meanwhile, power plant owner Constellation has agreed to put a 45-acre portion of its nearby Mystic Generating Station up for sale.

Taken together, the two properties could bring about massive changes to this industrial area on Boston’s northern doorstep, an evolution that kicked off with Wynn Resorts’ decision to build a casino and luxury hotel on the site of an old chemical factory overlooking the Mystic River. Wynn has more in the works, including a nearly 1,000-seat events venue and restaurant alongside a parking garage across Broadway (Route 99) from the Encore Boston Harbor casino complex. Meanwhile, The Kraft Group has been rumored to be in the mix for this area, known as the Lower Broadway Economic Development District, as part of the search for a home for the New England Revolution soccer team.

“Everett residents finally have the chance to realize the benefits of the types of economic development opportunities they deserve with the redevelopment of the ExxonMobil … parcel and the Constellation Energy generating sites,” Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria said in an e-mail. “I have always known the potential that Everett has to evolve from its industrial age commercial uses because we have the acreage that is no longer found in surrounding communities.”

DeMaria said he hopes the developer interest can help city officials make the case for public transit improvements, such as an extension of the Silver Line bus system or a new station for the commuter rail trains that travel through the city but do not stop there.

The city of Everett has touted much of the 95-acre Exxon property — actually four parcels that stretch from the Sweetser Circle rotary, at routes 16 and 99, all the way to the Mystic River — for life sciences. But Davis has not yet disclosed any plans for the site.

A rendering of Wynn Resort’s proposed events venue and parking garage across the street from the Encore Casino in Everett.
A rendering of Wynn Resort’s proposed events venue and parking garage across the street from the Encore Casino in Everett. Wynn originally proposed an 1,800-seat venue but has since scaled the project back to under 1,000 seats after rival theater operators complained to the state gaming commission. ELKUS MANFREDI ARCHITECTS

The firm’s chief development officer, Michael Cantalupa, confirmed in an e-mail that a Davis affiliate has signed an agreement with Exxon for its Everett fuels storage and distribution terminal, but would not comment beyond that. (Davis is also building a roughly 225,000-square-foot “last mile” distribution center near the Chelsea-Everett line, rumored to be for Amazon.)

Similarly, a spokeswoman for Exxon, which had hired brokerage firm JLL to market the site last year, declined to say much about the deal other than to confirm it and to add that it is consistent with the energy giant’s strategy to “continually evaluate and upgrade our portfolio.”

Matt Lattanzi, Everett’s director of planning and development, said city officials have had preliminary discussions with Davis executives about the developer’s interest but have not yet seen any formal plans. He said the property in all likelihood will be home to a mixed-use project totaling millions of square feet, with some residential construction, likely close to Sweetser Circle. He said he’s hopeful to see official plans submitted within the next few months.

“It’s such a huge parcel, so heavily contaminated,” Lattanzi said. “Seeing a redevelopment down there would be transformative.”

Next to hit the market will be a big section of Constellation’s massive riverside power plant. Most of the turbines have been shut down, and the two remaining gas-fired units, known as Mystic 8 and 9, are slated to be retired in mid-2024. Spokesman Mark Rodgers confirmed Constellation hired brokerage firm CBRE to sell its already decommissioned units, labeled 1 through 7, and much of the land around them. The process will start in the third quarter of this year, with a goal to “maximize benefits” for Constellation and for Everett, Rodgers said.

A number of potential buyers have expressed interest, Rodgers said. The sale process, he said, is designed to create “a fair process for all interested parties.” The two electric transmission switchyards next door are owned by Eversource, and are not part of the sale.

Because the Mystic power plant parcel is across Broadway from the casino and adjacent to Wynn-owned land, the Las Vegas-based company is viewed as a possible buyer. But all spokesman Michael Weaver would say when asked about its potential interest is that it is “very supportive of redevelopment” at both the Exxon and Constellation sites.

Part of the Mystic Generating Station in Everett will soon be put up for sale for redevelopment
Part of the Mystic Generating Station in Everett will soon be put up for sale for redevelopment.PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF

DeMaria has envisioned a dining and entertainment district along that stretch of Broadway across from the casino. For that reason, Everett officials added the section of the power plant property in question to an urban renewal area last year that would enable the city to take it by eminent domain, although officials said at the time they would prefer to see a private sale of the land instead.

Likewise, Wynn executives would like to see a hospitality-oriented area to augment their Everett casino, which opened in 2019. That’s one reason why they’re looking to build hotels, restaurants, and the events venue on 13 acres of Wynn-owned land across the street.

Then there’s the Revolution.

The soccer team currently shares Gillette Stadium in Foxborough with the New England Patriots. But The Kraft Group have spent years looking for an appropriate place in or near Boston to build a roughly 20,000-seat soccer arena that the Revs could call their own. Several parcels that have come up for consideration in the past are now slated for other uses: The old Wonderland dog track in Revere is slated to be the site of a new high school, for example, while the former Bayside Expo property in Dorchester was acquired by developers who are proposing a large life-sciences oriented project. A spokesman for The Kraft Group declined to comment about any potential interest in Everett.

The movements with the Exxon and Constellation properties were welcomed by developer John Tocco, whose V10 Development is planning two apartment complexes that would bring more than 600 units to old industrial properties just across the railroad tracks from the Exxon site, in an area known as the “Commercial Triangle.”

Tocco said the developer interest in the Exxon site shows that when Everett residents approved the casino project, they were betting on something much bigger than a casino. They were betting on a full-scale revitalization of a major industrial section of their city.

“This is a tremendously exciting opportunity for the residents of Everett to see this industrial site transformed,” said Tocco, who worked for Wynn in community and government relations before leaving in 2019. “Its really been a desire of the community, and the people I talked to, for almost a decade at this point.”

Housing eyed for parish campus at St. Matthew’s site

Two development groups are exploring a partnership that would redevelop the former St. Matthew parish campus on Dorchester’s Stanton Street into a mixed residential project with a significant affordable housing component.

V10 Development and Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation (NDC) rolled out their collaborative proposal, which is still in the exploratory stage, along with some initial ideas at a small public meeting with neighborhood association leaders from Redefining Our Community (ROC), Dorchester Unified, and Talbot Norfolk Triangle (TNT) on March 31.

St. Matthew parish was established in Dorchester in 1923. On Oct. 1, 2020, the parish was combined with nearby St. Angela parish to form Our Lady of Carmel parish. The church on Stanton Street was decommissioned and is now ready for what is known as “profane [non-religious] use.”

John Tocco, of V10, said his firm has owned the former rectory building at St. Matthew’s for some time and obtained the rest of the property under agreement from the archdiocese of Boston early this year.

St. Matthew Church

“We envision a mixed residential project with a heavy influence on affordability,” he said. “One way of achieving this is to potentially partner with the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation or a similar affordable development group, which is what we’re exploring now.”

Gail Latimore, director of Codman Square NDC, said that while there are no agreements between the two potential partners, they’ve had some “good conversations” over the past two months about the opportunity.

“We have no formal relationship or agreement,” she said, “but what we are doing is seeing how we can do something on the site. We have no plans. Being that the site is a former church, we wanted to have conversations in the community. We want to see if we can make the site work financially.”

Tocco and Latimore said any agreement would likely be a collaboration whereby Codman Square NDC would need to develop a minimum of 100 affordable rental units on the part of the site where the church and two related buildings now sit.

Such a venture would include purchasing the land at market rates from V10.

Meanwhile, V10 would develop a combination of 50 market rate and affordable units that would likely offer homeownership opportunities, with the entire campus being made up of a few separate buildings.

With that, the collaboration would consist of 150 units across the site, with parking aiming to be one-to-one for the V10 portion and the minimum 0.7 spots per unit for the affordable site. Tocco said they understand, even at this early point, that they are looking at a residential neighborhood that needs off-street parking.

“We don’t want people spilling out into the neighborhood and disrupting your block,” he said.

Said Latimore: “The other thing is we’re not sure if we can keep the buildings on the site. We haven’t decided anything, but we don’t know. We may have to demolish them, including the church.”

Tocco said his group has not developed in Dorchester, but has two large projects in the works in Everett and Worcester. He said he had experience in infrastructure development overseas before coming back to his home in Greater Boston, where he took on a major community relations role during the development and construction of the Encore Boston Harbor casino.

Knowing how communities work, and wanting to respect the area around St. Matthew, he said his company wanted to meet with neighbors before embarking on any big plans. They knew they wanted to make a big splash on the affordable housing piece at the site, and after investigating how to do it themselves, they realized it was much more complicated than they had anticipated. That led them to search for partners, which is how Codman Square NDC came to being considered for such a role.

“What we hope to take away at this early stage is what is exciting for the community.,” Tocco said.

For community members in attendance, one of the biggest concerns was the potential loss of long-time local operator Wesley Child Care, which has served the community since 1969 and has been located on the St. Matthew site since 2006.

Neighbors from Stanton Street and ROC indicated they would love to see a portion of the development be devoted to Wesley, as childcare in the area is tough to find.

“That’s very important to us,” said one neighbor representing Stanton Street. “Having a leasable space that could be a day care would be very important to maintain.”

Many neighbors also said they felt blindsided by the sale of the property. They stressed that the campus has always been a community gathering space, even for those who didn’t attend church there. Representatives from ROC and Dorchester Unified indicated they would like to see the gathering space continued with the provision of an enhanced community room for at least three of the abutting associations, a place for monthly meetings, for community gatherings, and for receiving official association mail.

“We need a place to call home,” said one ROC leader. “Not just a room, but a home.”

Other concerns were about the density on the site – a church campus with nearly no residential component would now have at least 150 new residences within a tight neighborhood. That, neighborhood leaders said, would need to be carefully planned and expertly executed to avoid disrupting a street that consists mostly of long-time homeowners.

Other leaders asked V10 to consider implementing a developer’s teaching program for young people and teens who are interested in any aspect of development – from property acquisition to architecture to community engagement to construction.

While the initial results of the meeting seemed promising for the potential development collaboration, more discussion is ongoing and any potential development agreement is still in the exploration stages, Tocco said late last week.

Fans flocking to Polar Park will enjoy new improvements to Canal District this summer

WORCESTER — Polar Park has revitalized the city of Worcester and the historic Canal District.

Even before the relocation of the Boston Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, to Worcester was made official on Aug. 17, 2018, team officials, government leaders, utilities, construction companies, local businesses and residents already were working in unison to help this project come to fruition.

In fact, with the leadership from the Worcester Redevelopment Authority, all entities worked in relative harmony to help get the ballpark built on schedule. The WooSox home became a reality when Polar Park officially opened in April 2021.

“The vision of the ballpark is to create a great civic space where people come and create memories, and create opportunities,” City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. said after the team’s inaugural season was complete.“We have raised Worcester’s visibility and brand. (Polar Park) has definitely delivered beyond expectations on all those things.”

While upgrades and improvements inside the state-of-the-art ballpark will continue for the 2022 season and beyond, real estate continues to boom around Polar Park. There will be significant changes to the city’s skyline around the ballpark, and most projects are underway.

Parking garage

Let’s start with the most immediate impact for WooSox fans — parking. The Green Island Boulevard parking garage will be fully operational in time for Opening Day on April 12. The garage directly across from Polar Park will have 300 parking spots.

Cove building

The building that once housed the Sir Morgan’s Cove nightclub, behind the center field wall on Summit Street is in the midst of demolition. It’s slated to become residential units and a parking garage. The project is hoping to break ground in August, with a completion date in the fall of 2024.

Table Talk Pies

Table Talk Pies opened its headquarters in Kelley Square in 1924, but recently baked its last pie on the property. Since its new location on Gardner Street is operational, the company has begun to remove equipment from the old building. Construction on the proposed Table Talk Lofts is set to begin in the fall.

Building behind berm

The proposed building behind the left field berm inside Polar Park is looking for an anchor tenant before construction begins, which could start as early as August. Once completed, WooSox fans will no longer be able to see Union Station from inside the ballpark.

Compass Tavern

The Compass Tavern was a popular place before, during and after WooSox games last summer. Worcester Railers owner Cliff Rucker recently purchased the restaurant, renovated it and renamed it The District Wood Fired Kitchen. It is set to open April 12, the same day as the WooSox’ home opener. Rucker also owns the popular Off the Rails on Commercial Street, which also is adding an outdoor music venue for concerts.