By SCOTT JACKSON
City councillors on Monday approved Mayor Thomas Koch’s request to take by eminent domain the IHOP building in Quincy Center for $9.45 million, setting the stage for future redevelopment of the site that could include a new specialty grocery store, some 300 apartments and a new municipal parking garage with up to 800 spaces.
James Fatseas, the city’s planning director, said the acquisition of the site – which is home to both IHOP and Health Express – would allow the city to move forward with a land disposition agreement for the property. That agreement, which would let the city flip the land to a third-party developer, would need to be approved by the City Council.
“The completion of the acquisition process will allow the city to move forward with the next steps, which include a land disposition agreement and development plan for the above referenced property that will be submitted to this body in the near future,” Fatseas said.
The $9.45 million price tag for the property was based on appraisals of the site conducted on behalf of the city, said City Solicitor James Timmins.
“There was significant appraisal work done. There was an initial appraisal, a review appraisal and then an appraisal done at Attorney Masterman’s request,” said Timmins, referring to James Masterman, an attorney who specializes in eminent domain matters.
“That’s all been reviewed by the project team and the agreed upon amount is $9.45 [million].”
The city will use district improvement financing (DIF) funds to acquire the Parkingway site, Fatseas said following Monday’s meeting; the DIF program allows the city to pay back bonds using new tax revenue created in Quincy Center. Councillors had approved borrowing $53 million through the DIF program in June 2022 – the fourth DIF bond authorized since 2007 – including funds to acquire the Parkingway parcel and three others on Hancock Street among other items.
In October, DJ MacKinnon, the president of Atlantic Development, provided the Planning Board with a preliminary presentation on the plans for the IHOP site. The development would extend across Parkingway to include the city-owned parking lot on the opposite side of the street.
The development would feature 20,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level fronting McConville Way and Hannon Parkway, including a 14,435-square-foot specialty grocery store, a 3,000-square-foot bank and a 2,500-square-foot restaurant. The addition of a grocery store in Quincy Center would be beneficial to residents living in the downtown and the rest of the city, MacKinnon said at that time.
“We think this will be very exciting for the downtown,” he told the Planning Board. “It works great for Quincy residents whether they’re driving by car – it’s a great location and easy to get to, a well-known location – but also at the same time for people who are living in the downtown it’s a very walkable location making it very accessible for people who want to talk to the site.”
The grocery store – referred to in the presentation only as a “specialty grocer” – is rumored to be a Trader Joe’s. MacKinnon told the Planning Board he could not confirm it would be a Trader Joe’s and added that there is no agreement in place for the other retail spaces.
The parking garage, which the city will own, would stand eight stories tall and contain 700 to 800 spaces, MacKinnon said; some of those spaces would be set aside for residents living in the new apartments on site. Another 132 spaces would be located at the ground level and would be for the retailers.
Six floors of residential units, which MacKinnon said are likely to be apartments, would be located above the ground-level retail spaces. The apartments would surround the garage along Hannon Parkway and McConville Way. The residential component also includes about 16,000 square feet of courtyards on the second floor as well as amenity spaces and a roof deck.
The new development in Quincy Center will be similar to The Abby, MacKinnon said, the mixed-use development his company constructed at the North Quincy MBTA station. That development features 610 apartments and a Target and other retail spaces built around a parking garage.
Prior to the eminent domain taking, the site at 119 Parkingway had been owned by a subsidiary of LBC Partners, the same firm who built the Nova Quincy development at 1500 Hancock St.
The City Council would have to approve a land disposition agreement to flip the site at 119 Parkingway and other city land to Atlantic Development. The project itself would be subject to review by the Planning Board.