Construction on Beach Beginning

April 4, 2012

Heavy equipment has moved onto Ocean Avenue this week to begin work on the new plaza deck and pedestrian bridge at Wonderland Station, and at the same time the project’s developer is laying plans for a hotel and for an apartment building.

Surveyors and earthmovers from Suffolk Construction stationed themselves in front of the station this week to begin working on the area that – for decades – has been a parking lot with one of the best views in America.

The crews will begin quick work to construct the plaza deck feature of the Waterfront Square development, along with the centerpiece of the entire project – a pedestrian bridge modeled after the Zakim Bridge in Boston.

That project will proceed at breakneck speed this summer and should finish up by October.

Just coming off of a public meeting last week at the Paul Revere School, designated developer Joe DiGangi, of EuroVest, told the Journal he has started serious talks with hotel chains and is leaving his options open on that part of the development in order to see what will happen at the potential casino site in Suffolk Downs.

The hotel must commence in January 2013 according to the contract and DiGangi said they are trying to find out how they will develop the hotel, and just how many rooms it will contain.

The building will be 45,000 sq. ft. and DiGangi said they might do one of three things.

First, they could develop the property themselves with the agreement of a major hotel chain, called a “flag” in development circles, to manage the full-service hotel. Secondly, he said they might assign the hotel development rights to a separate developer who will bring in the flag and build the building. The third option is for EuroVest to partner with another developer to get the project done.

The monkey wrench in the hotel project – which is expected to abut the plaza deck – is what will happen with the potential casino at Suffolk Downs. That possible project will also have a hotel, and DiGangi said it is difficult right now to figure out just how many hotel rooms to build.

In general, he said they are moving forward on the hotel with as much flexibility as possible.

He said they might build 100 hotel rooms and make the other 200 units apartments, with the possibility of converting them to hotel rooms in the future. He also said they might build just 100 rooms right now, leaving the top two floors unfinished but ready to build out if necessary.

DiGangi said that while he expects the development to stand on its own, he also expects the Waterfront Square hotel to be the primary off-site hotel for the potential casino, especially being that it would be the closest waterfront hotel to the proposed gaming facility.

He indicated that it would be foolish not to keep his options open at this point with so many things up in the air.

DiGangi said he is also working hard towards getting underway on a 194-unit rental apartment building closer to Revere Street on what is known as the North Lot.

He said that he is not compelled by his agreement to start work on that component of the project just yet, but he is anxious to get something happening there. He added that the rental market is hotter than ever in Boston, especially for luxury apartments in prime locations.

All in all, DiGangi said things are beginning to move forward and there will be endless action and construction from here on out.

  • Since moving to Oak Island, I’m really enjoying being able to just ride my bike to Wonderland Station instead of driving into Boston. The pace of construction on the new parking garage has been impressive. When it opens in a couple of months, the new bus quays inside the garage will make it much nicer for passengers transferring to and from the Blue Line.

    Personally, I will appreciate the new pedestrian bridge; it will make crossing Ocean Avenue easier and safer for me. However, comparing it to the Zakim Bridge, is an exaggerated misperception. Saying it’s “modeled after the Zakim” is just not correct. (thankfully!)

    The one thing the two bridges have in common is that they use what’s called a “cable-stayed” design to support the span.  Cable-stayed bridges have been around for centuries; since the 1950’s, many have been built as the technology has been refined. Modern cable-stayed bridges are now less expensive to construct than suspension bridges (e.g.: Golden Gate Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge). On the other hand, the cheapest bridges to build are just girders set atop multiple piers, but that becomes impractical when you need to span a wide distance with no support piers.

    So, here at Wonderland, using a (simple and basic) cable-stayed design means that there won’t need to be any support piers in the middle of Ocean Avenue, making the area under the bridge a lot brighter and more useful than it might otherwise be. As it is with suspension bridges, the aesthetics of cable-stayed bridges can also be very pleasant.

    I won’t argue that the Zakim bridge isn’t pretty to look at, but there’s nothing about its design that’s simple, basic, or necessarily even practical. Judged in that shadow, our Wonderland bridge will be far superior!

    Attached picture: New bus quays inside the garage, now directly attached to Wonderland Station – no more crossing North Shore Road or waiting in the rain! The busses have their own special connection into the garage directly from Butler Circle, and the new traffic signals have been designed so they’ll give priority to busses leaving the station. The new bus station will be open in just a few months; just in time for the badly needed, increased bus service the MBTA will be adding soon! (… what’s that, Elmer? they’re doing what!!?)

  • This is should be an all around great project for people who live in the area, people who commute via the T (especially those who walk or bike to the station and don’t like crossing 4 lanes of Ocean Ave traffic), and people from Boston who want to come to the beach.    Since this is almost completely funded with federal and private investment money, it boggles my mind why the cranky old Revere codgers are complaining about it.

  • Elmer, I think the comparisons to the Zakim Bridge are mostly because they were designed by the same architect:

  • Thank you for that link, Dave. Designed by the same architect makes sense, but that’s quite different than being “modeled after”, wouldn’t you say?

    (A bus and a train both run on wheels and are used to get from open place to another, but beyond that, they’re really not the same thing.)

    Attached images: Looking across where the new bridge will span. The steel pilings will support the new elevated plaza between Wonderland Station and Ocean Avenue. There will be ground-level parking underneath the plaza.

  • I agree, and I’d be interested to know if the architect himself actually considers this design to be “modeled after” the Zakim Bridge.   Other than the fact that they both have very modern looking designs, I don’t really see the similarities.    

    Hats off to everyone who was involved in making this happen. One of the (somewhat deserved, I think) criticisms of Revere is that the architecture is very tacky.   Between the new bridge, the beachfront pavilions, the old police station, and some of the newer condo buildings, maybe the beach will start to develop a cohesive sense of aesthetics.

  • Speaking of construction, 

    At 525 Beach Street this information should have been provided up front to the Site Plan Review folks, the EPA 21-E testing was done in May, 2011 and the line item budget submitted to SPR in Nov. shows $25K for site remediation from contamination so obviously someone knew about the contamination at the old soup kitch site. EPA requires disclosure at most 120 days after awareness.

  • More info on the architect, Miguel Rosales:

    Glad the powers that be decided seek out an established architect.  I have little doubt that in a city like Revere, there was probably a lot of pressure to hire some city official’s less-than-qualified nephew or niece.    

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