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Chelsea’s Forbes Park could finally see redevelopment under advancing plan

Proposal would erect 500 housing units, plus retail and offices, on former brownfield site

Boston Globe via Getty Images

The redevelopment of the former Forbes Park industrial site stretching 17 acres along the Chelsea River in Chelsea might finally be advancing after more than 15 years of fits and starts.

At one point, the former brownfield site was supposed to host 300 luxury lofts equipped with a plumbing system that recycled rain water, solar panels, and a wind turbine would power. That project even received federal monies under the 2009 stimulus package.

That idea and others came and went, felled by macroeconomic travails and financial hurdles. An auction in August 2013 resulted in just one bid—from the lender that organized it.

Now, a developer—a limited liability company based in China—has the approval of Chelsea’s Zoning Board of Appeals to construct more than 500 residential units at Forbes Park, with several thousand square feet of retail and office space and 963 parking spots.

More than half of the units the developer is proposing would be condos, and 59 would be designated as affordable rentals.

Other approvals or disapprovals from the city loom, but the zoning board’s mid-March decision in favor of the project appears to be the strongest sign yet that something might fill the site.

Also, the decision came only after an earlier proposal from the LLC, which has owned the site since 2015, was curtailed. It had called for more than 1,000 housing units as well as hotels and office space, per the Chelsea Record. Stay tuned.