By Christopher Roberson
On March 8, the Market Street Advisory Committee voted 11-1 to halt its discussion regarding a possible movie theatre at MarketStreet Lynnfield until a “specific theatre proposal” is made available. The decision resulted from a motion made by Member Anne Mitchell during the committee’s March 8 meeting. She said the committee’s recommendation to the Board of Selectmen cannot be influenced by National Development. “It’s not our mission to work with or for National Development,” said Mitchell.
Theodore Tye, managing partner of National Development and Louis Masiello, senior vice president of Development at WS Development, presented the theatre concept to the committee during its Feb. 22 meeting.
Member Wallace McKenzie said the onus is on the committee to keep pace with National Development’s plans as they evolve. “They’re playing three-dimensional chess and we’re playing checkers,” he said.
McKenzie also said that MarketStreet does not need a theatre to attract additional customers. “This turned out to be three times what was anticipated,” he said of the outdoor mall. “This isn’t in trouble.”
In addition, he reminded the committee that the prior theatre proposal included a request for 360 seats and 38,000 square feet, whereas the current request would be for 800 seats and 40,000 square feet. “This is a very big risk,” said McKenzie.
Member Salvatore Yerardi asked about the possibility of building the parking garage behind Wahlburgers or Whole Foods Market. The location that Tye suggested is adjacent to California Pizza Kitchen. However, Yerardi said putting the parking garage behind either Wahlburgers or Whole Foods would compel more patrons to take Exit 42 off I-95 when visiting MarketStreet, thus taking the strain off of Exit 43.
Yerardi also reminded the committee about the size of the garage. “It’s going to be big; it’s something like 400 cars that they’re talking about,” he said.
Member Jocelyn Fleming said she would like to see recent financial reports from larger theatre companies, such as AMC Theatres and Showcase Cinemas. “What if the cinema fails? What could go in there?” she asked.
Fleming also said she is surprised that the entire concept is still being considered after 11 years. “The residents have said ‘no’ time and time again, yet here we are,” she said.
Member Taidgh McClory said that during the Feb. 22 presentation, Masiello only showed pictures of MarketStreet. “I was hoping for more examples,” said McClory.
He also said that MarketStreet’s high traffic volume, particularly during the evening, is a clear sign that it continues to be a magnet for North Shore retail customers. “If you have no traffic, that means something is wrong – that’s the Chicopee Mall,” he said.
Member Paula Parziale said she would like to see the layout of Showcase SuperLux in Chestnut Hill. “I’m very impartial right now,” she said. In addition, Parziale said the Smart Traffic Signals should be installed now rather than waiting until the theatre opens, should it be approved.
Member Philip Doucette said he is concerned about the type of clientele the theatre could attract. “We’re not crazy about outsiders coming into our town,” he said.
Following the members’ comments, resident Joseph DeMaina said he voted to approve MarketStreet back when it was known as Meadow Walk at Lynnfield. He also remembered that National Development nearly came out on the short end of that decision. “They were within a hare’s breath of losing that vote,” he said.
However, DeMaina said his opinion of National Development has changed since then, adding that company representatives have proven that they can no longer be trusted.