Friday, July 21, 2006

The Sloan Machine Speaks, Masons Appear and Other Musings

Sloan Machinery Lofts Speaks Out

The residents of Sloan Machinery Lofts are having their voices heard in an effort to influence the development of their neighborhood for the better. At issue is the development of a convenience store in place of the current towing service / car lot. According to the article Sloan Machine doesn't like the idea of having a convenience store next to them. My question is - why? If it's a nice convenience store, why not? I haven't walked down that way in a while. According to the article the resistance is because there are already several convenience stores nearby. I do recall seeing some, but they are small mom-and-pop shops catering to the tastes of locals of a different style than residents of Sloan Machine. However, with that said, it seems unlikely Tedeshi will produce something more appealing unless they listen to Sloan Machine. This is actually an opportunity for Sloan Machine to influence the development of a convenience store that can serve as a model for others. The article from The Daily Item follows:

LYNN -- The City Council tabled a petition to open a Tedeshi Food Shop and take-out business at 585 Essex St. Tuesday night so that neighbors can have the opportunity to air concerns about building a convenience store in an already congested area.
Petitioner Michael McLaughlin agreed to meet with abutters of Sloan Machine Lofts next Tuesday at City Hall after a considerable number of people from that condo association turned up at the hearing to speak against the project.
"We're happy to address the concerns of the neighbors," said attorney George Demakis who represents McLaughlin.
The site of the proposed convenience store is currently home to Bill Woods Towing Service.
McLaughlin is in negotiations to purchase the property from Woods and build a 16,000 square-foot convenience store. Because the site is already zoned for this type of business, Tuesday's hearing was for a special permit to build a take-out business inside the store, like a Dunking Donuts or Subway.
"This is a very important site for the resurgence of Lynn. It's a vast improvement over the current use and that's no disrespect to Bill Woods," Demakis said.
McLaughlin does not intend to have seating inside the store or a drive-through as part of his plan.
Hours of business will be between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m.Thirteen spaces are required, but Demakis said they intend to allow for 17 spaces.
A meeting was scheduled for 6 p.m. next Tuesday at City Hall to address concerns of neighbors.
Because the issue was tabled, only one abutter against the project chose to speak at the hearing.
"I feel strongly that the placement of another convenience store would be a grave error," said Warren Sadow

Real Masons

I received confirmation from unit 4A in the front of the building that in-deed there are real masons doing real work on the front of the building. 4A should know since they've been hanging outside their windows for the last couple of weeks. Also, I noticed all the red dust, remnants of old brick work, scattered all over the sidewalk in front of the building. Progress at last!! Can't wait to see what they screw up! Uh, did I just say that? Why yes I did! Can you blame me?

A 24 Hour Mac Donalds

The Mac Donald’s on the Lynnway has on their signage that they are open 24 hours on certain days. Yay, now I finally have a place to grab a bite to eat late-night... now I just need a good place to vomit afterward. And NO, just because others vomit in the elevator does not mean I feel compelled to do it too. A man must have standards.

Farmer's Market

The Farmer's market has changed their hours to be open fron noon to 7-ish. I think this is a very smart move on their part. I for one always lamented missing the market. With the prior hours it was closed on the way to and from work. Now commuters can actually stop by on the way home and buy fresh stuff for dinner! Fantastic! If only I could get home before 7! Commuting by car sucks.

Wouldn't it be nice if we had the farmers market as a permanent fixture in one of the old buildings Downtown? Something multi-floor, multi-ethnic, multi-food... not just veggies but all kinds of locally produced stuff, and most definitely a fish monger. Lobster, Lobster, Lobster. Something along the lines of Pikes Place Market in Seattle. We are an ocean town after all. That's what I love about Lynn. It's location, old architecture, and eclectic collection of people provide tremendous opportunities to build something great, enduring, useful, and different. Add some motivated people, some cash, heavy dose of city-council help, and the mind of someone with vision and good taste - stir, bake at 400F for 5 years, and insert toothpick to check for doneness... Make sure you use an air-bake pan.

Indian Food

Is there an Indian restaurant nearby? I don't recall seeing one and I was really jonesing for lamb vindaloo the other day.

Gulu-Gulu Alfresco

No, I have no problems with Gulu-Gulu being in my building, but if they were able to relocate to the other side of the block where Big Scoops once stood they could have outdoor seating. Wouldn't that be great! Sip your double-shot-skinny-late as you bask in the autumn sun, read the paper, and listen to the harmonica guy that walks the block now and then. If you look at the width of the sidewalk at that location you'll see it's perfect for outdoor cafe tables. In the process of moving they can also plan their lighting better. Let's be honest, the lighting at Gulu needs some work. The fixtures are cool, and the light is better than functional - however, it appears no one really put in a lighting plan. Consequently it's difficult to feel cozy in the place. Turning down the lights helps, but instead of cozy, it feels cramped and sleepy. Ever notice how much better it feels when they have the fire-place video playing on the wall? It's not just the fire; it's the extra bit of dynamic spot-lighting it provides. Think about it the next time you're in the place. Some table lamps in strategic locations would help.

Resident Parking Only

I want resident Parking Only from 6PM-8AM. I want those large elevated crosswalk/speed bump combos. I want parking spaces lined diagonally in front of the building with curb extensions to bracket the parking spaces. And I want an Aston Martin V8 Vantage to park in one of those spaces. I believe the Aston martin will be the only thing to actually materialize, but I can dream.

Hardware Store

You know, I wish the hardware store had better weekend hours. I guess business is probably slow, but I wonder if it would improve if they better fitted their hours to those of existing residents, and advertised with flyers that they exist - the store not the residents, but the residentds do exist too. I'm one of them. A resident.


A wine and cheese store would be really nice.... and a BBQ place.

That is all.


sculpin said...

These are all nice wishes. Given that there really is not the critical mass to support these endeavors, if I were a small business ownere I would probably require require a commitment from every resident within a square mile to purchase at least $100 of product from me within the first year. "Hey, you want wine and cheese? Give me $100 up front and I will make it happen." Have you explored the Russian store up the street? Not Galinka, I think it is European Foods or European Deli. They have lots of interesting foods and wines from places like Georgia and Chernobyl. I think the nearest Indian restaurant is in Salem. There isn't one in Lynn. By the way, Salem is an interesting place, if you have not been there yet. If you want wine and cheese, take the 442 bus almost to the end of the line in Marblehead. Shube's has everything you desire.

Anonymous said...

i saw them working in the old big scoops on third thursday its suppose to reopen as a new ice cream place. also up the street next to cal's new a new restaurant is opening called the Gloucester harbour house. it might already be open.

Marcus said...

Hi Sculppy. Good to see you again.

A wine shop need only sell about 6 bottles of good wine to earn $100 in sales. Considering I have 12 bottles of wine on my rack and go through about 2 each week, which works out to 104 bottles per year; I alone consume roughly $1700 in wine per year. That means I alone consume as much as 17 residents. When you consider my neighbors drink as much (if not more) than I do... A little -itty-bitty wine shop would probably do well.

The neighborhood does not have enough residents to support sub-urban scale retail, but it does have enough to support small urban scale retail - like a small wine and cheese shop. A new small convenience store would probably survive and do well as long as the store-front, location, and staff are inviting, and they carry stuff that appeals to the tastes of the new and old residents alike.

I think drinking wine from Chernobyl is a very bad idea.

I've been to Salem many times. Nice place. Lots of history. Not my style. It's faster and more convenient to take the train into downtown Boston and raid the wine and cheese casks there; however, I will look for Shube's per your recommendation. Always good to stay in-the-know you know.

Welcome back, Sculpin, and I'm flattered you're still reading.

Anonymous said...

Shubie's is a great place. I always forget about it. Thanks for the reminder! They have a great prepared foods section. Lots of wine, cheese, chocolate, etc. It's on Atlantic Ave in M'head. Definately give it a try!

Mike C said...

Hi Mark,

You've been busy ;).

Sculpin is correct about the indian rest. It's in Salem and quite good.

Although we might not come close to your average....;). We'd definitely frequent a wine and cheese shop as well. We usually grab our beer/wine from Vinnin Sq. Liquors in Swapscott(right next to Whole Foods). They have a great selection. Although we still find our way back to TJ's in Cambridge from time to time.

Hopefully Flava Z will open before the end of summer, they are losing out on a ton of business, hopefully they can measure up to Richardsons. 1st I've heard of the Gloucester Harbor House.

Will definitately have to check out Shubies...thanks!!

Anonymous said...

I too agree that a gourmet wine shop would be fabulous, but the wine shop on the Lynnway is great. It's near Sonny's carwash. State Street Liquors is not bad for a second choice.

Marcus said...

One of the major pros of a little wine shop in Central Square is that I can walk to it without choking down tons of car exhaust, or driving.

I prefer to drive only when I have to. I like using my feet to get around instead of just to push a gas peddle. With that said, until a wine shopt appears in Central Square it's really nice knowing all my options.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marcus, Looking to come back to Lynn to settle down, have been away in Europe most my life. Growing up here (High Rock park)was fun, great memories. Though not happy to relocate to Greece at the time, 20 years ago, things worked out well in the old land. Coming back to my birthplace for a visit after a 10 year absence, things in Lynn were not honky dory as I recalled. I'm not never was a racist, but I am the only english speaking on the street. So what ? No harm done, but I really feel unwelcome. Down town ?? A no-no ! At night ? Hell no ! Maybe living in Greece made me soft, who knows...I remember walking down town with my mother, it was so nice....really ! Lynn was and is a great city, things need to be done though ! A LOT ! Hope I'm there by the end of the year if all goes well with my job, will absolutely check out oxford grill, see ya

Marcus said...

I think you'll be plesantly surprised by how much things have changed for the better downtown. It's a very safe place. Having the police HQ just 2 blocks away helps too.

LynnLuvva said...

I think the biggest barrier to getting more residents/commerce downtown is a lack of awareness. Lynn is simply not on the radar of people and businesses beyond the immediate area. As far as I know, the only marketing for downtown Lynn is done by its residents, and the occasional Globe write up on the lofts and Oxford Street Grill (and certainly articles on our crime and drugs outnumber these). I think a few innovative initiatives targeted to the right people could go a long way. Maybe the city should re-allocate dollars slated for development to do a PR campaign? I know that sounds absurd but I think it could maximize the city's (and residents') investments long-term. After all, what's the point of having all these wonderful things if no one comes to enjoy them and/or ride their momentum. In the movies, "if you build it they will come." But in real life, people need a push and a reason to try something new.

To me, the biggest opportunity lies among young professionals who work in Boston but can't afford to live there (or Cambridge, and increasingly, Somerville). Many of these people are from other places, but went to school in Boston and stuck around, so they don't know about Lynn which is GOOD because it will allow us create a good first impression (rather than combat "baggage" some old-timers/locals have about Lynn). Imagine this: we charter 2 buses - 1 from Boston and one from Cambridge/Somerville - full of people coming to Lynn for the day. We advertise it in campus newspapers and on a Daily Candy. Volunteers on the bus hand out pretty brochures and info(custom made for this even - not city hall standard issue) and answer questions. We go on loft tours. We eat at Gulu-Gulu. We stop at the beach. The bus (The Lynn Line?) drives them back. We could also do an "empty nester" version. Then we brag to business about having both demographics (both are known for disposable incomes and are particularly fond of wine and cheese :-))

Another idea is to use the city buildings themselves as media. Tens of thousands of people ride the commuter rail through Lynn each day (including many tourists during the summer and around Halloween). They have a birdseye view of the city - which looks like an industrial brick jungle from up there(despite all the good things that are apparent at street level). Why not paint the sides of the buildings that are visible from the train with murals and/or advertisements (the classy old fashoined kind that's painted on) for things in Lynn? Imagine a colorful, fruit and vegetable-bordered ad for the farmers market on Thursdays. It's a reminder for everyone who gets on/off in Lynn to stop by and signals to those passing through that great things are happening here in Lynn.

Even if these aren't the best ideas, the point is: awareness. People can't want to live or set up shop in a place that they haven't considered. Let's get it on their radar!

Marcus said...

I agree - we could use some more positive exposure. Even old residents who haven't been here in decades still assume it's a sketchy place to live. If memory serves, Dorchester has more problems than we do yet Dorchester gets more press about what a great bargain it is. Must be because it's on T so the reporters can get there easier. Being a neighborhood of Boston helps.

As for the exposure plan... I like the bill-board / mural idea best. What I think the city doesn't realize or hasn't considered is that the Commuter rail stations is the real a gateway to downtown. You can't even see the square from the Lynnway. It's the track that exposes the most people to Central Square, and you're right, from the tracks the place looks bleak. Nice plantings near the tracks, decorations, and some good, and I mean GOOD, public art would serve us well.

As for style, I mosty agree, retro is best, but I would prefer that mixed with complementing modern art. It fits in with our architecture, and who doesn't long for Norman Rockwell moments - in shiny stainless. An old Coke banner would look great - with a little neon - just a little. It could hang on the white face of the Woodward building on Washington St. across from the Pevear building. It would sit right outside my window. Man, that would look SO cool!! Time to call Coke....

Richard Tenorio said...

Interesting comments you've got for a changing city, Mark. I'm a more-or-less lifelong Massachusetts resident and employee of the Daily Item (where I read the article about you today). Feel free to check out my own blog...

Anonymous said...

There is an Indian restaurant in downtown Salem, right on the main street there-I forget the real name of the street-I always just call it the main street. Anyway, it is right next to the Edgewater Cafe which is on the corner of Front Street. I am not a big fan of Indian but my boss loves it there.

Anonymous said...

i see all the scaffolding around your building gone did they actually finish fixing it.

Marcus said...

They are definately do real work. From the outside things look pretty good. I have to see the wall during daylight on a sunny day to make sure they removed all protruding metal fittings and things like that. To the best of my knowledge the water testing went well. We'll see. I think a couple of weeks and another rain storm will testify to its worth, but I'm hopeful.

With that said, there's all thse ropes on top of the building behind our building. You know, the Plumbing shop. I wonder if they know that junk is up there? Also, I believe they are to do work on the backside. I have to confirm with Mayo's Dennis Burke to see when the work on the back starts. I imagine that will be tricker. That brig work will stop my window leaks... hopefully.

Anonymous said...

The Joti Palace in Malden has good food, just dubious decor.