NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

September 5, 2013

67-unit building planned for Port

BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
STAFF WRITER

---- — NEWBURYPORT — State officials have approved the high bid of the MINCO Corp., which will enable it to proceed with plans to construct a 67-unit residential complex near the commuter train station on Boston Way.

Louis Minicucci Jr., corporation president, said that his company is in the process of finalizing a purchase and sale agreement with the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority.

The company is buying 11.1 vacant acres from the MBTA for about $1.43 million, and it plans a complex of one- and two-bedroom garden units.

Minicucci said that when the purchase is finalized, MINCO and city officials will hold discussions on details of the 78,000-square-foot complex.

“We have to get approval from the city on many aspects of our plan,” said Minicucci. “We look forward to having conversations with their experts, and moving forward with the planning and engineering details.”

The complex would be the largest residential development here in more than a decade, and company officials released the following tentative details:

About 20 percent of units will be in the affordable category, an income-based metric based on state guidelines.

Residences will be between 750 and 1,100 square feet, depending on whether they are one- or two-bedroom dwellings.

Rental for a one bedroom will be about $1,425 per month; an “affordable” unit would cost $1,200. Rental for a two-bedroom would be $2,000 per month; an affordable model would be about $1,350.

All figures are subject to change. No retail venues are included in the plan.

The building will be placed on about 1.5 acres in the first parking lot in the north section of the property. (After one turns right onto Boston Way from Parker Street, the construction site will be in the parking lot on the immediate left.)

Engineers are planning for underground parking.

A large, empty brick “train station” that was constructed as part of the commuter-train complex was not part of the purchase, and evidently will remain without tenants or commercial activity.

MINCO, an 18-employee firm with offices in North Andover and this community, is the developer of a 114-unit complex off Storey Avenue known as Maritime Landing. It is also developing a medical-arts building at 255 Low St., units of which will be leased by Anna Jaques Hospital.

“There is an existing pent-up need for places to live in Newburyport,” said Minicucci. “Newburyport is a very desirable community, and we feel there will be a demand for these units.”

He said he couldn’t identify a specific start date, in part because of the coordination required with city officials. But he speculated groundbreaking could be next fall.

City officials for more than a decade have said they want to create a “smart residential growth district” in that area.

The vision of community leaders would call for more development near the nearby Route 1 rotary, and it appears that a new apartment complex will be an appropriate component of the growth plan.

Andy Port, the city’s director of development and planning who pressed to have affordable housing included in the cost estimates, said that MINCO is in its “due diligence period for site investigation and permitting.”

He indicated that the city is a key stakeholder in the development of the land and that some of the corporation’s plans could change to address concerns of the city.