Photo courtesy of the city of Everett

Everett officials envision a new commercial district and waterfront destination rising on the Mystic River following the decommissioning of Exelon Corp.’s natural gas-fired power plant.

Desired uses include hotels, concert halls, marinas, retail space and sports facilities, said Jamie Fay, president of Boston-based consultants Fort Point Assoc., which is advising the city of Everett on the process.

“It’s poised for redevelopment,” Fay said during a presentation to the Everett Planning Board. “Having urban renewal authority with the power to potentially acquire that gives a lot of control to the city and some momentum for spurring redevelopment.”

The Planning Board Monday approved adding the 40-acre Exelon property to the urban redevelopment area on lower Broadway in anticipation of the plant’s final two units shutting down permanently in June 2024. That would give the city the authority to acquire the property through eminent domain if private efforts to redevelop it sputter.

The Lower Broadway district urban renewal area plan approved in 2015 no longer reflects the real estate market in the area, according to a report submitted this month by Fort Point Assoc., with major changes including the opening of the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor casino in 2019.

The city also is in the midst of a multifamily development boom, including a 650-unit apartment development that will break ground this summer at 85 Boston St., and a proposal for a 250-foot-tall apartment tower at 114 Spring St.

Cost estimates associated with the acquisition of the Exelon property, and environmental cleanup of petroleum and PCB’s on the site, have not been determined, according to the Fort Point Associates report.

“The decommissioning… presents an opportunity to convert one of New England’s largest and most polluting power plants into a development within the new district that will benefit public health, recreational opportunities and access to the waterfront,” the report states.

The entire Exelon property located at 39 Rover St. spans 66 acres and is assessed at $607 million, according to city records.

“The value of the parcel with no power being generated on it is much less than it was in the past,” Fay said. “Part of the concern here is if it just sits vacant, there will be a reduction in tax revenue to the city. The goal is to try to spur some redevelopment. The goal is not to acquire the parcel. The goal is to at least have that as a tool in your toolbox.”

The redevelopment also could benefit from creation of a new station on the MBTA commuter rail’s Newburyport/Rockport line, which runs along the edge of the district, the report said.

The amended urban redevelopment zone also includes three parcels on Mystic Street, including a residential building and auto repair shops, which have been sought by casino operator Wynn Resorts for additional commercial development.

In August 2020, Exelon announced it would close the two final generating units at the Mystic River plant in 2024, citing changes in the electric grid by system operator ISO-New England.

“This is some of the most sought-after land in the entire Commonwealth from a real estate development point of view,” planning board member Jim Tarr said.

Everett Seeks to Redevelop Power Plant as ‘Destination District’

by Steve Adams time to read: 2 min