A major milestone in the Waterfront Square development on Revere Beach is about to unfold this week, and if developers have their way, the project will soon shift to warp speed.
Covington Realty Partners of St. Louis will appear before the Conservation Commission today, June 5th, to discuss plans for building two apartment buildings with 194 rental units on the North Lot at Wonderland.
It will be the first piece of the private development phase of the project. Up to now, only the public portion of the project has been under construction – including the new parking garage, pedestrian bridge and plaza deck.
Covington is one of the largest national multi-family apartment developers, having been in business since 1981 and having developed more than 16,000 units during their existence. They’re entrance into the East Coast follows a trend of western, Midwestern and southern development companies looking towards stronger rental markets in larger coastal cities like Boston and San Francisco.
Partner David Braswell told the Journal that Covington is preparing to buy the North Lot property development rights from EuroVest’s Joe DiGangi. Once that is done, it’s nothing but full speed ahead.
“By June 30th, we are predicting we’ll have everything we need from the City and I can start my construction documents,” said Braswell. “We would like to have a shovel in the ground by September and units available next April or May, 2014.
“It’s a great opportunity in Revere and Joe DiGangi has done a formidable job getting this done to this point,” he continued. “He’s spent seven years laying the groundwork. We’re acquiring the land from Joe and he has been a formidable asset to us because he knows this so well.”
According to documents filed with the Conservation Commission, Covington has proposed to build a seven-story apartment building and a five-story apartment building on the North Lot. Combined, those buildings will house 194 units of rental apartments. There will be two levels of parking under the seven-story building and one level of parking under the five-story building – amounting to 258 spaces for the buildings.
Most of the environmental and flood zone triggers in the development have been avoided, most likely, due to the fact that the buildings are being situated just outside of the boundaries, according to those same documents.
Braswell said they would commence the five-story building first – which will be located closest to Revere Street – and have it completed and ready for rental by April or May, 2014. They will continue on with building the seven-story building and have it finished by October.
He predicted they would be done with the entire project by December 2014.
DiGangi – who still holds the development rights to the rest of the project – said he is elated that a national company has come on board. He said having a company with the stature of Covington sends the rest of the development world a message about the stability of the market and the project.
“They’re a top rated company and they do about 2,500 or 3,000 units per year,” he said. “When you develop at that level, the entire United States is your territory. They’re a very reputable and old company.
“That I’m bringing in national development companies to develop the project with me is fabulous,” he continued. “Everyone should be applauding this. I’m delighted they’re coming in and it gives the project a national presence.”
Mayor Dan Rizzo said it’s a victory for Revere and the entire state.
“I am obviously excited to see the start and first phase of private investment,” he said. “Our entire Economic Development team has worked tirelessly showcasing all parcels that make up Waterfront Square. Now, it appears we’ll be reaping the fruits of their hard work and persistence. Obviously this is not only good news for the city, but also for Congressman Markey, Governor Patrick, Secretary Bialecki, and others who believe in Revere and provided close to $80 million to help create these development opportunities.”
Ward 5 Councillor John Powers said he does have concerns about the construction materials in the buildings, and hopes that they are of a high quality.
“I would hope whatever they put down there is made of a high quality material – concrete and steel,” he said. “I’d like to see high-end condos, some shops and quality restaurants. I’d like to see something to bring people in there – people who will support upscale restaurants and upscale shops.”
He did say he was a little put off by the fact that he had heard nothing of the project until this week.
“I feel like the City Council has not been privy to any of the negotiations on developments around here,” he said. “We seem to learn of everything by a late communication.”
Braswell said they learned of the Revere Beach project opportunity through Lou Minicucci Jr. of MINCO Corp. in North Andover. It just so happens that a partner at Covington is a friend of Minicucci’s, and they shared notes and came up on the Beach.
“We feel we are very fortunate to be a part of this project,” said Braswell. “We’re excited about the area and we hope to do more in the Massachusetts area.”
To date, most of the company’s projects have been in Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kansas and Oklahoma.
The Revere Beach project will be known as Vanguard at Waterfront Square.
There might be a carnival there now, but the North Lot could be home to new apartments by this time next year. A St. Louis developer is before the Conservation Commission this week and could kick off the Waterfront Square project by September.