"HRA proposals will be aired at 2 forums" (Hull Times, Nov. 22, 2018)

The Hull Times, November 22, 2018

By Carol Britton Meyer

Two development teams competing to build residential/commercial projects on the vacant Hull Redevelopment Authority site at Surfside will present their plans at two separate HRA meetings – Nov. 26 and Dec. 3 – at 6:30 p.m. at Hull Town Hall.

The HRA property is the last significant tract of open land in Hull considered suitable for development. The redevelopment authority is responsible for administering the town’s “urban renewal” initiative, centered on parcels located between the ocean and bay from Water to Phipps streets.

HRA Chairman Bartley Kelly briefly updated the selectmen about the development proposals last Thursday and invited them to attend the two scheduled meetings because, he said, their input is important to the process.

“At the Nov. 26 and Dec. 3 meetings, the developers will be interviewed and will present their proposals, including their background and financial details about their projects. There are a lot of pluses and some concerns for each,” Kelly said, adding, “This will be a transparent process.”

While the meetings are open to other town boards and the public, Kelly said additional sessions will be scheduled to allow members of the public to ask questions and comment on the proposals.

Both preliminary design concepts were unveiled at an October HRA meeting. The proposal by a Quincy development team, Nantasket Landing Partnership, calls for 136 residential units with 100,000 square feet of commercial and recreational space, including

a rooftop restaurant and a year-round sports/entertainment center. The plan put forward by Hull natives Francine and Paul Townsend, who built the Sandcastle condo units on Beach Avenue in 1985 and developed the original Spinnaker Island condominiums, calls for 150 residential units with 6,000square feet of commercial space, including retail shops; 25 percent of the 10.77-acre site would be preserved as open space.

Town Manager Philip Lemnios anticipates great interest in the proposals among town boards and commissions and Hull residents. “People will want to hear from the developers firsthand what their concepts are and will begin to form questions,” he said.

Noting that the Nantasket beachfront attracts thousands of visitors each year, the HRA’s Kelly said the goal of development on the site is “to make the town more vibrant and to increase the tax base [by creating more commercial space, which will lessen the burden on residential taxpayers]. This will be a major development.”

The current expectation, Kelly said, is that by early February the HRA will choose one of the two teams to develop the site, to be followed by “a year of permitting” from various town boards and committees.

Some grant money could be made available, including a potential MassWorks infrastructure grant, to provide support services for the HRA project like the implementation of an improved traffic system in the area, officials said.