'A blank slate': Lynn mayor pushing waterfront revival

LYNN, Mass. — Think of beautiful coastal spots north of Boston and places like Marblehead and Manchester-by-the-Sea might come to mind.

Now there’s a push to create another destination that’s even closer to the city.

It’s in Lynn, where work is already underway to transform that city’s long-neglected waterfront.

Mayor Thomas McGee is a man with a mission. He wants to create a vibrant Mecca for the entire region.

“If you come north of Boston and you look at this view, we are looking at Boston," Mayor McGee said. "The Boston Harbor Islands are right on the horizon. There are not a lot of places that have this kind of feel.”

Right now, much of the area between the Lynnway and the harbor is trash-covered and neglected. It’s about 300 acres of oceanfront property.

“I like to talk about the South Boston waterfront in the early 90s, it was blank. A blank slate. It was a couple of restaurants, parking lots, really a desolate area,” said the Mayor.

Lynn resident Edward Soriano likes the idea of creating news parks in this area.

“I think it’s just a waste of space because there's nothing there," Soriano said. "There’s no buildings. There's nothing at all.”

Work has already begun on the northern end of the parcel. A sea wall is going in where 322 housing units will go up. It’s a $90 million project.

All the private projects will be required to build public boardwalks, connecting the entire strip of land.

“It's really about enhancing everybody in the city of Lynn's opportunity to take advantage of one of the nicest resources, nicest locations in the region,” added the Mayor.

That sounds good to Lynn resident Zeeshan Mehboob.

“There’s not a lot of park around here, so that would really be an awesome thing...for summer especially,” Mehboob said.

In all, 60 acres of parks will emerge from the desolation. Much of the land is currently contaminated.

Another aspect of the overall plan is to add ferry service to Boston after a trial program was considered successful.

There’s still a lot of work left to do, but that doesn’t stop Mayor McGee from dreaming about what this area might be in the future.

"This community will really get the chance to enjoy one of the most beautiful places in the region. I see that as what I would like to see in 10 years,” said the Mayor.

We asked the Mayor if he had concerns that the area will gentrify and become too costly for residents. He told us the plan is to create a mix of market rate and affordable housing units, as well as one project for veterans.

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