Town meeting voters will likely be asked to consider a warrant article that would authorize National Development to add what is described as a specialty cinema to phase 2 of the MarketStreet Lynnfield project.
During a visit last week to the MarketStreet project site off Walnut Street in Lynnfield, Ted Tye, managing partner of National Development, recalled that the original zoning for the project back in 2007 did not include a movie theater as an allowed use. He added that back in 2009, town voters were asked to approve a regular cinema, and while a majority vote was reached in favor of the idea, the required two-thirds majority was not.
The proposed warrant article for the 2013 spring town meeting would specifically request zoning approval at MarketStreet for a specialty cinema - eight theaters in a space of about 45,000 square feet. It would be in a 50-foot tall 2-story building, with all but the lobby and escalators located on the second floor. The rest would be active retail space.
The theater would be located in Building 1100 of MarketStreet, added Tye, which he said is at the most remote corner of the site with no abutters. "Lynnfield is our market. This is all targeted to Lynnfield," he added. He also emphasized that the term "specialty cinema" envisions a family-friendly environment that can also serve as a space for the community - not as an arthouse movie theater. The request would also only apply to a proposed theater at the MarketStreet development - not to other parts of Lynnfield.
There are two specific changes that need to be approved, said Tye - the allowed height of the 2-story building needs to be raised by five feet, as well as a separate Phase 2 request to allow three stories instead of two stories of office space while still keeping a 45-foot tall building.
Contingent upon approval, the theater would open with MarketStreet's Phase 2 - which includes four new buildings in total - in late 2014 or early 2015, said Tye. Right now, there is no plan for a formal break between phases 1 and 2. Rather, construction is expected at this point to simply continue onto the next phase as the first one gets up and running. Phase 2 reportedly will offer about 70,000 square feet of office space.
"What we are proposing here is something that works for Lynnfield," said Tye, adding the proposed cinema would be as much a third the size of some other nearby movie theaters, such as the one in Woburn or at the Legacy Place development in Dedham. In the case of the Legacy Place theater, noted Tye, the proposed Lynnfield theater would be half the size of that one.
The proposed Lynnfield theater would also be "a little more upscale than normal theaters," said Tye. "We feel it's what the community wants at this time."
"People ask me all the time, when are we getting a theater?" he said, adding that the proposal is "something really tailored to this development and Lynnfield" while also ehancing the project's overall "town center" feel. He also said that the theater, as well as the planned golf course at MarketStreet, are part of "how we create great retail" in an era when people can increasingly just stay home and still buy any products they want.
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