We support right-sized redevelopment of the Beverly Depot-Odell Park area, designed to retain the urban fabric and historic character of the square, including preservation of the Casa de Lucca building.
Why the Depot Matters
The Odell Park-Depot District is one of Beverly’s most important and visible civic spaces. It serves thousands of commuters a day (third busiest stop in entire MBTA Commuter Rail system.) It hosts civic events like the Farmers’ Market, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day ceremonies. And, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its role in Beverly's transportation history, with several period, railroad-related buildings.
It is a space that belongs to all of Beverly. We believe that redevelopment adjacent to the park deserves more careful attention, and public input, than almost any other location in Beverly, and a redevelopment plan worthy of such an important public space.
What is Proposed?
The developer’s current proposal is to demolish the entire block of buildings located across Railroad Ave. from Odell Park and construct a single, 6-story building with 111 market-rate apartments. What the developer proposes far exceeds the appropriate scale of this location, destroys three historic buildings (that form an important part of a National Register Historic District), and seeks to avoid any on-site inclusionary housing, instead substituting the minimum number of affordable units off-site.
In addition, the developer has manipulated the state and federal tax credit program over the course of the past 6 years. Despite receiving $2.2 million in historic tax credits on the promise to keep and rehab these buildings, the developer used a loophole in the system that allows it to keep the $2.2 million in credits, and now knock down the buildings anyway.
The accompanying images show a rendering of the latest revision of the plan, followed by four drawings of the four facades. This latest design was presented at the August 20 Planning Board hearing.
Special Permit Criteria Not Met!
We believe that both iterations of the Depot II plans presented to date are much too big in mass and scale. They do not fit in this historic location and certainly do not deserve special permit approvals from the Planning Board. Many points required for a Special Permit are not met including:
The developer seeks a special permit to exceed 55 foot building height limits. The design does not meet the City’s Design Guidelines for Tall Buildings in many respects. (e.g., exceeds cornice height limit, exceeds massing ratio on 5th & 6th floor Pleasant St. facade, exceeds allowed top floor maximum site area, inconsistent street edge along park, etc.)
The developer seeks a special permit for a reduced number of required parking spaces without a comprehensive understanding of traffic impacts.
The developer seeks a special permit for relief under the Inclusionary Housing Regulation. 111 units of housing would be built without any on-site affordable units, violating the intention of inclusionary housing.
The developer violates many points of Zoning criteria associated with Site Plan review. This project will have adverse values on all properties in the district, will create traffic, be a hazard and nuisance, and will negatively impact the city’s resources.
The developer has manipulated state and federal tax credit programs. Despite receiving $2.2 million in credits that were contingent upon preservation commitments, this project will result in the demolition of 3 National Register listed buildings.
“If it doesn’t fit, we shouldn’t permit.”