Pavilion Mercato LLC


BirdsEye Meeting - Gloucester City Hall - April.24, 2010

At 9 AM on Saturday April 24 Mac Bell's BirdsEye team presented its second informational session at the Kyrouz Auditorium in Gloucester's City Hall.

Bell, whose family's ties in the Fort neighborhood stretch back to the early 1900s, purchased the historic BirdsEye property on Commercial St. in June 2009. In keeping with his commitment to a project that will benefit the city as a whole, he has been working intensively with neighborhood groups, architects, city planners, and state and local officials to develop concepts for the best and highest use of the site.

Saturday's event reported on the progress of those efforts.

Since last August, Bell's team has been surveying local opinion and conducting focus groups and neighborhood meetings. M.J. Boylan discussed the team's findings, and she and Gregor Gibson put this information in the larger context of Gloucester's history and future – specifically the damaging detour that city fathers took in the 60s and 70s, down the road of monolithic use and restrictive Urban Renewal-era zoning that resulted in dead ends like the infamous I-4, C-2 parcel on Rogers St.

Overwhelmingly, the consensus of the prior information gathering sessions has pointed away from such thinking toward a mixed use that allows for waterfront access, public space with an art or educational component, and a blend of commercial, residential and retail uses. There were suggestions of all kinds, but the common thread was a hearkening back to the vitality and energy of Gloucester in its healthiest days, and a strong desire to return to that kind of urban lifestyle. The consensus was for increased tax dollars, more jobs, and a revitalized downtown, and nearly everyone thought that a diversity of uses would be a better way to accomplish this than a single, sprawling hotel or mall.

Presentations by architects and planners Richard Griffin, Craig Herrmann and David McCarley explored the real-world possibilities for making “wish list” concepts come true in challenging economic times. They portrayed an extremely fluid situation in which the ultimate development of the property depends on a regulatory framework that allows for mixed use without the endless hoop-jumping that has squashed many waterfront projects in the past. Because of its unique status of being zoned for density and diversity (prior to BirdsEye, many hundreds of people lived and worked there), the BirdsEye parcel is potentially open to residential/commercial/ industrial use not seen on that site since Gloucester's heyday.

The session closed with a summary and overview by Mac Bell.

The final plan, he said, is going to be driven by a combination of regulatory and economic factors that are not yet fully known. “We have three acres of amazing downtown, harbor front property to work with. What we build there depends on what we'll be allowed do on the site.”

Bell is adamant that the entire property be deed restricted “so as to only allow investors, tenants and residents who acknowledge and accept the ‘charm' of the neighborhood's mixed use nature. People who find that aspect attractive are the only customers I know who will want to be part of the project.”

And, he insists, any development will embody the creativity, vitality and diversity that are the heart and soul of Gloucester. “We want to provide the opportunity for varied, synergistic uses, balanced within our ability to meet needs for parking, public access, views, and utilities. It is our hope that people interested in ownership, rental or tenancy will, together, make BirdsEye a ‘Living District' where people can live, work and play.”

View the Slideshow Presentations:
Craig Herrmann's Presentation
Gregor Gibson's Presentation
MJ Boylan's Presentation
Richard Griffin's Presentation

Check out the videos made by linked on our press page

Thank you for your interest in our BirdsEye symposium at City Hall on Saturday November 21.

We had an enthusiastic crowd of more than 100 people who were treated to a sort of Charles Dickens Christmas Carol presentation - Except the medium was Power Point, and the story was Gloucester Past (Gregor Gibson), Gloucester Present (M.J. Boylan) and Gloucester Future (Mac Bell). Of particular interest was Mac's presentation, in which he outlined some of the financial, social, and political factors that will determine the final shape of the BirdsEye project.

The meeting then adjourned to the BirdsEye property on Commercial St., where about 45 hardy souls were treated to hot mulled cider and a tour of the building.

The highlight, of course, was the view from the roof of the plant - a marvelous panorama, encompassing the Fort, the Inner and Outer Harbors, the City and the Magnolia shoreline. That was the moment at which the real excitement of this project became clear. It's a beautiful spot! And it was a beautiful morning.

View the Slideshow Presentations and Text:
Mac Bell's Introduction
Gregor Gibson's Presentation
MJ Boylan's Presentation
Mac Bell's Conclusion

9/19/09 - Thank you to all who were a part of our first BirdsEye Focus Meeting! Below are pictures from the day in a slideshow...

Summary of the Meeting by Group
Group 1 Summary
Group 2 Summary

8/8/09 - First of all we want to thank you for making our 8/8 gathering such a success. We had a large, enthusiastic crowd and a wonderful time. Even more importantly your suggestions and concerns were sincere, insightful and intelligent - exactly the kind of information we need to guide us as we move forward.



Now we must begin considering these ideas in terms of the economic engines that will drive them. What are the fiscal realities behind the various proposed uses of this beautiful site? How do we integrate these various possible uses into a viable and sustainable project?

As we go forward the BirdsEye team will be working with our core group of concerned citizens on ways to make our visions for the future coincide with economic realities.

Our first focus group meeting will be held at 33 Commercial Street on 9/19. Results of that meeting will be posted here. This will be followed by a meeting in October, and by as many more gatherings as we need to make sure that we've gotten it right.

Minutes from each of these meetings will be reported here, so stay tuned!

And thanks again,
The BirdsEye Team

BirdsEye Meeting 8/8/09

Tuesday June 16, 2009

On Friday June 12, 2009, Pavilion Mercato LLC purchased the 1.75 acre parcel known locally as the Birdseye property. This lot, fronting Pavilion Beach, is adjacent to the lot at 33 Commercial Street, where the Bell family has worked since 1909. We feel fortunate that, as a local company, we have been able to secure such a vital piece of Gloucester's waterfront history.

We know there has been disagreement recently concerning the future of this property. It is our belief that much of the controversy was caused by the types of development proposed, and the manner in which these development proposals were put forth. Earlier development initiatives were not sufficiently sensitive to the needs of the people who live and work on the Fort.

Because of our long history in this neighborhood we believe we can accomplish a creative re-use of the Birdseye property that will be acceptable to all. Our earlier projects - Gloucester Mill on Maplewood Avenue, 33 Commercial Street on the Fort, the Main Street Plaza, and the 100,000 sq.ft. (recently permitted) green development on Emerson Avenue - show the kind of work we do. Our focus has been, and will always be on revitalization, not gentrification. My own thirty-two-year career at the Glass Sail Boat on Duncan Street and my experiences as a two-term City Councilor have made me keenly aware of the challenges that face downtown Gloucester and the waterfront, and of the possible solutions that await. In short, I think we are uniquely qualified to undertake innovative development of the Birdseye property.

What form will this development take? As of this moment, we are open to a wide range of possibilities. We would welcome the concept of a mixed industrial/commercial/residential use, but until we've completed the process of talking to our neighbors and sorting through design and engineering studies, nothing is cast in stone. For now, we are completely happy with 100% industrial use of the property. We are working with the existing tenant who will continue to operate the freezer facility, and we are actively seeking new tenants who can help us utilize the property as it is presently configured.

We are genuinely excited about the future of the Birdseye property, both for the immediate neighborhood and all of Gloucester. But we cannot move forward without help from you. Our first community meeting regarding the property will be held at the Birdseye site, 9AM on Saturday, August 8. Bring a lawn chair and your best ideas.
Enjoy the wonderful view. Be a part of the dream!

Mac S. Bell

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Click here for BirdsEye newspaper articles and letters:Gloucester Daily Times online

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