Project Name: Newburyport Crossing
Summary: A Smart Growth development, both LEED and Fitwel certified, featuring 76 apartments (57 market rate, 19 affordable units), and amenities such as garage parking, EV-charging stations, in-building elevator, fitness center, and dog washing station.
Start Date: May 2016 (project approved)
Completion Date: April 2021
Investment Date: 2019
Total Projected Cost: In excess of $50 million (including 3 Boston Way)
Lender: Rockland Trust, Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank
Developed By: One Boston Way, LLC, an entity of MINCO Development Corp.
Stakeholders: MINCO Development Corp., City of Newburyport, MBTA
MINCO Founder and President Louis P. Minicucci, Jr., about Newburyport Crossing: “You have to work together to find what makes economic sense at the same time as you address the vision that the city has in mind. That is what we did. We jointly designed this project.”
When MINCO in the spring of 2013 submitted a bid to purchase 11 acres of vacant land by the MBTA commuter rail station in Newburyport, the Smart Growth District, in which Newburyport Crossing — the city’s first Smart Growth development — would be located, had yet to be approved.
Although an explicit goal in several City documents, many details remained to be addressed before the Planning Board could sign off on the creation of the district. Against this backdrop, MINCO had to tackle a number of challenges, such as:
Financial viability: MINCO officials met throughout 2014 with city representatives, including Mayor Donna Holaday and Planning Director Andy Port, to informally discuss the development, at the time named One Boston Way. Much of the discussions centered on aligning the financial viability of the project with the city’s vision in preparation for the launch of the Smart Growth initiative.
Adjustment requests: The City requested a range of adjustments that MINCO had to evaluate from both cost, design, and engineering perspectives. For example, the City proposed increasing the number of affordable units, raising the ceiling heights, and devoting the first floor to commercial use.
Smart Growth District approval: Public hearings began in 2016. With the project at stake, MINCO worked closely with city officials during several intense months to respond to questions and further requests for alterations to the plans. All in all, MINCO submitted five design iterations before the final Planning Board approval that same year.
Build community goodwill: To showcase the company’s commitment to transparency and establishing open lines of communication, MINCO tried a novel approach to spread the word and to become the go-to source for information on the project. In the spring of 2015, just before public hearings began, MINCO leveraged a new blog and social media channels to help the public understand the value of 40R and the positive impact of Newburyport Crossing.
Include live/work units: Rather than designating the first floor as commercial space, MINCO returned to the City with a different proposal: live/work units. The concept was, at the time, just beginning to take off and was, unlike commercial use, economically sustainable for the location. With their own exterior entry to a private office space, the units would cater to small business owners and also enable them to advertise their business with a “blade” sign. The City concurred it was the right move.
Respond with collaborative mindset: MINCO took care to ensure that the project not only met every guideline established by the Smart Growth zoning ordinance, but also with the vision of city officials. In the spirit of collaboration, MINCO, for instance, added rain gardens for drainage retention and illumination at the Rail Trail entry point, completed a shadow study to ease concerns of abutters, and re-examined entry and pedestrian travel patterns.
Increase apartment stock: In a market starved for inventory, Newburyport Crossing adds much needed rental apartments, featuring 15 floor plans and everything from studios to three bedrooms. The apartments provide both an opportunity for people to move to an idyllic North Shore community without the growing price tag of buying a home and for current residents to remain in the community even if not earning top dollars.
Boost affordable housing percentage: With 25 percent of the total number of units designated affordable, all 79 units – even those priced at market rate – count toward Newburyport’s stock of affordable housing. In raising the affordable housing percentage, the city gets closer to the state mandated 10 percent, which means the municipality automatically gains more control over future such developments in the community.
Revitalize underutilized neighborhood: Newburyport Crossing is the first crucial step in a long-held city vision to transform the area around the MBTA rail station and the Route 1 traffic circle into a transit-oriented, walkable, vibrant, mixed-use hub at the southern gateway to the city. With apartments now leasing and next-door restaurants like Metzy’s Cantina and RiverWalk Brewing Co. offering great food and live music, a new era has officially begun. In essence, Newburyport has received a new economic engine, while combating sprawl and honoring the value of open space.
Raise green building profile: As the first LEED-certified building as well as the first Smart Growth community in Newburyport, Newburyport Crossing raises the standard for green building design in the city. The development is also the first of its scale in Newburyport to be Fitwel certified, a hallmark of built-in health-promoting features.