Local developer Chris Reale told the Board of Selectmen this week that his proposal to build Nantasket Dunes at Paragon Boardwalk, a mixed-used development next to the recently completed Paragon Boardwalk, could serve as “a catalyst for change in the broader neighborhood” as part of a proposed pedestrian-oriented, family-friendly beachfront Boardwalk District.
“This is an over $30 million investment for us,” Reale said. “The goal is to create a new and unique recreation destination. We want this to be a success for everyone.”
Board Chairwoman Jennifer Constable voiced optimism about what the project might bring to that area, which serves as a gateway to the rest of the town.
Acknowledging that the boardwalk and adjacent property “have been an eyesore for a long time and a source of frustration for town boards, residents, and neighboring businesses,” she told Reale that “you’ve turned it into something the community can really buy into.”
Reale said he plans to file the mixed-use portion of the proposal with the Planning Board within the next month.
Key to the proposal is gaining the state Department of Conservation and Recreation’s approval to combine parking Lot G with developer-owned land on George Washington Boulevard to create 267 additional parking spots and to convert DCR lots D and E into greenspace. Such a plan would result in a net parking increase of 160 spaces.
A skate park is also included in the proposal, along with enhanced trolley service between Nantasket Beach and Pemberton Point as well as access to the entire length of the beach. A new location and operator are being sought for the Arcade and Fascination.
Reale and his development team envision the atmosphere and energy of the boardwalk carrying over to underutilized lots along Nantasket Beach so as to create a unified Boardwalk District that would fit in with the recently-adopted Unified Work Plan and the DCR’s Master Plan.
The UWP 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.
Based on initial feedback and a PowerPoint presentation provided to The Hull Times, the Boardwalk District, if approved by town officials, would contain:
* 140 rental units promoting year-round activity for local businesses. All units would have ocean views, and Hull residents would have access to a pool overlooking Hull Bay and World’s End.
* public art as an extension of the Art Walk;
* enhanced retail opportunities with a focus on fostering outdoor family fun and creating additional opportunities around the Paragon Carousel;
* streamlined parking and a reduction in local traffic;
* pedestrian parks and crosswalks to create a more walkable neighborhood and to connect Jake’s and Steamboat Wharf to parking and the beach;
* bike lanes; and
* resiliency planning related to the area being located in a flood plain.
The existing boardwalk would be enhanced as a family-friendly outdoor venue, with fitness pop-ups and beach volleyball leagues. A new restaurant operator would serve ice cream, tacos, pizza, and beer, starting this summer. “It will be a great time to try new things, and we’re looking forward to a better 2021,” Reale said.
Chairwoman Constable said she would like to see more retail on the first floor of the proposed development.
Reale noted that the mixed-use proposal that will be presented to the Planning Board does not involve DCR property. He added that the proposal will also go before the town’s Conservation Commission and the Design Review Board.
There would be opportunity for public comment during those hearings. About 60 callers were on the line during Reale’s presentation, but no public comments were allowed for that reason.
Reale said the review process would help refine the design if necessary and would provide an opportunity “to listen to what people have to say about the proposal. I understand that we don’t have all the answers.”
The development team, Reale said, plans to reach out to abutters and other interested parties through Zoom meetings, and residents can sign up for project updates through the thedunesparagon.com website.
Meetings of town boards and commissions involved in the review process will be posted on the town website, town.hull.ma.us.