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Your Vision. Our Expertise.


Malden Downtown Revitalization: Building a bridge between
public and private interests.

Once upon a time, downtown Malden had it all.  A vibrant commercial district with thriving restaurants and shops, a transportation hub – the Orange line and bus routes — that made it a desirable place for commuters to live, and a pleasant downtown vibe.  Then a complex built smack in the middle of downtown effectively marooned the transportation center and cut off access to the main commercial area.


A longtime Beals + Thomas client had a vision for restoring Malden’s vital downtown by reopening the Pleasant Street corridor, creating easy walking access to the struggling retail and restaurant district and adding new, multi-unit, multi-purpose residential and commercial buildings.


Our real role:  Master Problem Solver


Our client hired us to steward the zoning and permitting process as well as provide civil engineering and surveying services.  In other words, they really hired us as the project’s master problem solver.  It’s a role we’re accustomed to fulfilling.


“The planning complexity is what first struck me.  An assemblage of parcels, some of which were owned by the city, some of which were not owned by the city – a lot of technical zoning intricacies had to be vetted and approved by the zoning board.” – John Gelcich, AICP, Senior Planner


The project entailed three parcels – two owned by the city and one not owned by the city.  In addition to the three parcels there were two “paper streets” or rights-of-way.  The idea was to take the three different parcels and the two different rights-of-way and combine it all into one parcel connecting through to the central marketplace.  Just to complicate the zoning and permitting further, the developer envisioned two buildings connected by a skyway.  In Malden, only one building is allowed per building lot. 


A month-long conversation


The city officials wanted to approve the development plan but to do so, it had to conform to Malden zoning regulations and restrictions.  This is where Beals + Thomas’ experience solving issues to the satisfaction of both the zoning board and developer came into play.  As a result of a month-long conversation, we were able to get the complex interpreted as one structure while maintaining conformance with the zoning regulations.  We then worked with the architect to ensure that the development would indeed comply with the agreed upon interpretation.  The fact that we support the interests of the city and zoning officials as well as those of the developer is a primary reason why both count on us to be that master problem solver.  When we walk into a meeting, both parties know we’re on their side. 

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