Stadium on Everett Power Plant Site Gets Help from Beacon Hill

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The Kraft family’s long search for a professional soccer stadium in the Boston area could receive fast-track approval through a Beacon Hill amendment that exempts a waterfront property on the Boston-Everett line from state environmental regulations.

The state House of Representatives’ economic development bill includes a clause that removes Constellation Energy’s 43-acre Mystic Generating Station property from a designated port area and exempts it from the Chapter 91 waterfront access law, which includes state limits on uses and size of buildings.

Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria told the Boston Globe that the Kraft family, owners of the New England Patriots and Revolution Major League Soccer team, has discussed a potential soccer stadium development at the site and that he supports the concept.

Removal of the designated port area status for the 173 Alford St. parcel would allow a wider range of non-marine dependent uses, while exempting it from the state’s regulations for the height and density of waterfront projects.

Conservation Law Foundation quickly deounced the potential changes as “truely early” and said they were added to the economic development bill without public comment or outreach to waterfront advocates.

“I do not know of any other property of this size in the history of the Chapter 91 program that has been removed from jurisdiction by the legislature,” said Deanna Moran, CLF’s interim vice president of healthy & resilient communities.

Matthew Lattanzi, Everett’s director of planning and development, said the potential redevelopment of the Constellation Energy property would continue a “Domino effect” of industrial properties in the Lower Broadway area being repurposed. The Encore casino was built on a former chemical plant following environmental remediation.

“We have a long history in Everett as an environmental justice community, and we often bear the brunt of all the negatives that come with it. It used to be Boston’s dumping ground and we want to have uses that residents can enjoy directly, as opposed to a utility for the rest of the state,” he said.

Any potential projects would be subject to a local review and opportunities for public comment, he said.

However, the amendment removes a layer of regulatory oversight under the Chapter 91 Public Waterfront Act that seeks to balance competing economic interests on coastal properties. It states that the changes for the Alford Street parcel will become void if “no such sports, recreation or events center” receives permits within three years.

Typically, developers seeking to remove a property from the designated port area designation submit changes through the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, which solicits public comment before issuing a decision.

The amendment was sponsored by state Rep. Dan Ryan, D-Boston, whose offices did not respond to messages seeking comment. The Kraft Group was not available for comment.

In 2021, Everett officials added the Constellation property to the Lower Broadway urban renewal zone as they prepare for the plant’s shutdown in 2024 and potential future uses including sports facilities, hotels, concert halls and marinas.

Everett’s industrial district has attracted a series of large-scale developments including the Encore Boston Harbor casino and thousands of apartments in recent years.

Wynn Resorts received Massachusetts Gaming Commission approval this year for a 999-seat live entertainment venue and restaurants across Broadway from its casino. Future phases could include two hotels and restaurants.

The Davis Cos. has been active in recent development activity, accquiring the 18-acre Boston Market Terminal produce wholesalers’ property in December 2019. In June, the firm reportedly reached an agreement to buy the 96-acre Exxon Mobil tank farm property and began discussions with city officials about a future mixed-use development.

DeMaria told the Globe that upgrades to public transit will be required to accommodate the Constellation site redevelopment. An economic study commissioned by the city and completed by Fort Point Assoc. noted that the entertainment district would benefit from a station on the MBTA’s Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail line, which runs through the neighborhood.

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