The Challenge: Secure town approval for a new commercial real estate development in Lynnfield
MarketStreet Lynnfield, an open-air lifestyle center, with unique shops, distinctive restaurants, dynamic entertainment options, represents a destination that has something for everyone.
However, in the mid-2000’s, the developer of MarketStreet needed Lynnfield voters and town leaders to approve a new concept that would replace existing uses that were considered and amenity for the area. Many local stakeholders at that time did not see the benefit of having a lifestyle center replace a beautiful golf course and lush green space with a “strip mall.”
Further, at that time, Lynnfield did not have much commercial development in town and many stakeholders throughout town felt the town was fine without additional commercial development and were not seeking to lower its tax base.
In addition, there were many abutters to the proposed development that were opposed to a change of use on the site. When the applicant for the proposal, National Development, announced their preliminary plans for the site, they were met with a smart and well-organized opposition, a town legislative body that historically voted against commercial development of any kind and a local press contingent that declared the project unwelcomed before it was even announced.
With potential increase in traffic and infrastructure issues, the developer and its consultant team faced some significant challenges.
Our Approach: A community relations and education campaign designed to inform Lynnfield residents and Town Officials of the benefits of the development proposal
Lynnfield residents, town leaders and planners had to approve plans for 475,000 sq. ft. of development including 395,000 sq. ft of retail/dining/entertainment, 80,000 sq. ft. of office space as well as housing for seniors. SA embarked on a community relations and education campaign designed to inform Lynnfield residents and Town Officials of the features and benefits of the lifestyle development proposal. Hosting frequent open houses, informational sessions, walking and bus tours as well as creation of a project web site, the development team was able to create a dialogue with decision makers on the benefits to the town while educating interested parties about the project details.
Schneider Associates, the developer’s communications partner, launched a media relations campaign to influence the already skeptical press corps while creating a forum to promote the various benefits Lynnfield would gain from this project. As the public process proceeded, a meaningful and productive private and public relationship was established.
Finally, a wide-ranging “get out the vote” campaign was launched to ensure Lynnfield voters, including project supporters, were well represented at Town Meeting.
The Result: Town Meeting saw record setting attendance and votes on the proposal, successfully securing approval for the development
As the development team became more integrated with the Town of Lynnfield, positive sentiment around the project began to build. The working relationship that the development team formed with the community created an atmosphere steeped in compromise and trust.
As a result, Town Meeting saw record setting numbers attend and vote on the proposal. With over 2,200 Town Meeting members casting their vote, the project easily achieved community consensus achieving the necessary two-thirds vote allowing the developers to win rezoning approval and paving the way for MarketStreet Lynnfield.