Hull Redevelopment Authority Chair Bartley Kelly agreed during Wednesday’s Select Board meeting to deliver a copy of the nearly completed draft Urban Renewal Plan that has been in the works for a year and a half to Town Manager Philip Lemnios the following day.
The HRA was charged in the 1960s with redeveloping a large parcel of land in the Nantasket Beach area that is considered to be prime property, and the plan relates to that area.
“Can you submit the draft to my office tomorrow for the Select Board to review, even though it is incomplete?” Lemnios asked. “It would be instructive for the board [whose support is required before the URP can be submitted to the state] to see where you are at in the process and will help get [Select Board members] up to speed so they can provide input.”
Chair Jennifer Constable said the earlier the board receives the draft plan, the better. “We just don’t know what’s in it right now. This is one of the last significant developable parcels in town, and we need to work in concert with the HRA” before public comment is sought.
Kelly agreed that it would be beneficial “to promote a unified front moving forward.”
After denying in 2019 two responses to a Request for Proposal, the HRA determined that an approved URP was necessary in order to give the HRA the flexibility needed to negotiate with and choose developers for the property. “We’re close to being done with the draft,” Kelly told the board before Lemnios made his request.
In the meantime, Kelly reported that the HRA has had “some discussions with developers,” including a proposal for single-family homes and a park, leaving the bayside area open. Another developer proposed a larger-scale project that included residential units and a hotel.
“Both developers are eager to work with the town based on the final URP,” Kelly said. “They’re looking at the parcel as a raw piece of land to be developed” based on what town regulations allow.
He also noted that the two developers whose proposals were not accepted in 2019 may still be interested in the property. “The goal is to do what the HRA set out to do 50-plus years ago, while maintaining the character of the town and keeping neighborhoods intact,” Kelly said. “There are people who are definitely interested in developing this property.”
Once the draft plan is complete, including Select Board input, there will be public meetings to gather comments from citizens. Lemnios asked that the HRA submit details on how the public process will work by the end of next week. Kelly said he could deliver that information to Lemnios by the middle of the following week at the latest.
Once the final plan is finished – after considering citizen and Select Board input and gaining the board’s endorsement of the URP, the HRA will seek the required approval from the state Department of Housing and Community Development. “An approved URP will give us the ability to negotiate directly with developers,” Kelly said.
The HRA was recently awarded a $272,000 state grant in support of a two-way road design for Nantasket Avenue, Hull Shore Drive, and Hull Shore Drive Extension, near where the HRA property is located.
This grant will provide for the continued development of the 25 percent design plan concept, funded by the HRA, into fully designed and shovel-ready construction plans, according to a recent update provided to The Hull Times by the HRA.
This major change is geared toward improving vehicular flow and pedestrian safety and access through the area and helping to resolve traffic backups and will also add open space along the bayside of the HRA property.