Developer planning housing, retail, and more for key beachfront parcel
By Carol Britton Meyer
Paragon Boardwalk venue.
“This will start the process,” he said. “With the [pandemic-related] closures and the state of the [arcade] building currently located there, we feel the time is right to propose a mixed-use housing/commercial development within the Nantasket Beach Overlay District [NBOD], to be named The Dunes at Paragon Boardwalk.
“Our hope is that this project would unlock many of the proposed streetscape improvements included in Hull’s Unified Work Plan [UWP],” Reale told The Hull Times.
The arcade, which has been closed for nearly a year, and the miniature golf course would be demolished to make way for the new development.
The Unified Work Plan, approved by the Board of Selectmen earlier this year as a flexible, “living document,” integrates eight earlier plans and studies focused on the improvement and revitalization of the Nantasket Beach area and offers a strategy for short- and long-term implementation.
The key, Reale said, is to work cooperatively with the selectmen, to whom he wrote a letter last week describing the proposal and all the parties involved. State grant opportunities are available for this kind of private development.
If all goes as planned, the project would be permitted under Hull’s NBOD bylaw, “which has spurred a new wave of mixed-use development,” Reale noted. “The proposal aligns with the purposes set forth by the NBOD by supporting sustainable commercial development, promoting a mix of uses to develop residential and cultural opportunities, and encouraging a less sprawling and more efficient form of development that consumes less open space.”
The stated purpose of the NBOD is to stimulate mixed-use development of commercial and multifamily property at a scale and density appropriate for a historic beachfront community in order to revitalize the economy and help balance the commercial and residential tax base, “while protecting people, property, and resources.”
If the necessary town approvals are secured, the development, formerly part of Paragon Park, will contain 140 rental units, year-round retail space, and related amenities and improvements. They would include an outdoor pool and cabana with sunset views over World’s End, a fitness center, game room, and a rooftop lounge with 360-degree water views.
“The modern units, reminiscent of grand beach resorts, would have exterior balconies, en suite laundry, and generous closets,” Reale said. “Once completed, the mixed-use development would be a premier oceanfront destination at the entrance to Hull, where impressive hotels and lively retail shops once attracted vacationers from all corners of New England.”
Every unit would have water views, contributing to meeting the increased demand for seaside living “on Boston’s doorstep” and would also provide much-needed housing for the area and additional tax revenue for the town, Reale predicted.
“This development would provide an opportunity for affordable and flexible oceanfront living, with a host of modern amenities and onsite programming,” he said.
Working with town boards, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, and local business owners, the proposed project “has the potential to be a catalyst for the land-use goals set forth in the UWP,” Reale continued. “In particular, the project could create an additional 267 parking spaces in an underutilized lot owned and operated by DCR, consolidating parking in a way that would promote a ‘park-once’ district to greatly reduce the amount of circulating traffic on Nantasket Avenue, promote a walkable beachfront district, and allow for the conversion of parking spaces to recreation areas as contemplated in the UWP.”
The Dunes proposal, the developer noted, promotes the use of existing modes of public transportation, including the Greenbush commuter rail and ferry service, each located about 5 miles from the property, and the local 714 bus.
With abundant options for public transportation into Boston – all within biking distance, the proposal promises to promote a more active lifestyle and care-free living, as detailed in the documents that will be submitted first to the Planning Board for site plan review.
In accordance with the town’s resiliency goals, the Dunes would be raised 4 feet from the existing ground level on Nantasket Avenue.
“By further redeveloping the property, we seek to continue to enliven this area of Nantasket Beach that has recently seen a wave of new multifamily and retail redevelopment,” Reale said.
The project is designed to complement the Paragon Boardwalk at 189 Nantasket Ave. and the Hull ArtWalk, as well as the many area restaurants, including Jake’s Seafood, Dalat, Red Sky at Steamboat Wharf Marina, The Parrot, Hull’s Kitchen, Mambo’s, Schooner’s, California Underground, and others that contribute to making Hull a dining destination.
“The Boardwalk, consisting of five recycled shipping containers offering in part tasty food, beverage, and ice cream options, a volleyball court, an outdoor fitness and yoga area and fitness classes, and a surf shop, reopened pedestrian access from Nantasket Pier and George Washington Boulevard by removing a vacant and derelict stretch of buildings and turning that parcel into an open-air and lively outdoor recreation area,” Reale said. “I think people will think the Boardwalk is cool, including the green space.”
It is expected that in 2021 the Boardwalk will be owned and operated by a South Shore food and beverage operator, with an expanded focus on fitness classes and outdoor family activities.