tod news

Apartments, innovation hub proposed for MBTA land
Dyke Hendrickson | Newburyport Daily News


Plans are underway to completely rebuild the Metro Center on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz. (Dan Coyro -- Santa Cruz Sentinel)

A construction project that until recently was described as an apartment complex with some affordable units near the MBTA train line is emerging as a modern live-work innovation hub where professionals can make their careers as well as their homes.


Louis Minicucci, founder and president of MINCO Corp. of North Andover, spoke before the Affordable Housing Trust last night.


In a meeting that included members of the Housing Trust, the Planning Board and Mayor Donna Holaday, he outlined the plan that he proposes to launch: One Boston Way, Residences at Clipper City Innovation Hub.


It will offer “luxury apartments with modern design, amenities of a corporate office, great potential for company space, and the leisure of no commute to work.”


Though numbers could change, he indicated there would be about 80 units — 70 apartments and about 10 live-work spaces.


On the ground floor, there could be as much as 3,500 square feet of space for a business center that could “be used by a software engineer who meets an entrepreneur who gets to know a marketing executive.”


“This could be an excellent site for small businesses that could work in Newburyport, and get on the train to Boston when they needed to,” said the executive, who has built thousands of residential and business units on the North Shore over a four-decade career.


City officials had indicated that MINCO was considering 64 units with some retail, but his presentation outlined a more ambitions plan with a major business-office accent.


Minicucci said that he is comfortable with earmarking 20 percent of residential units for affordable housing.


But there are deadlines that must be reached if the project actually begins, Minicucci said.


MINCO has a purchase-and-sale agreement with the MBTA to buy about 11 acres near the train station. 


Company officials say the high-density units will be built in the first parking lot off Boston Way; other acreage the company is purchasing is wetlands.


MINCO’s contract states it must purchase the property by June 1.


But the executive said he does not want to close on the acreage until the city creates a 40R zoning overlay that would specially allow high-density.


“The city does no zoning that allows for multi-family complexes like this,” he said.


He indicated if the city adopts a district that allows such projects, he can get his permits and take them to banks to begin discussions about financing.


Holaday said that city officials, including members of the Planning Board, are working to facilitate the project, but several hearings must be held at the committee and City Council level.


it could be well into March before the city signs off on a 40R zoning district — if city councilors approve.


That said, the MINCO team appears driven by its vision of a business incubator and/white collar office complex in this community.