Debate Shaping Up Over Proposed MarketStreet Lynnfield Cinema

Possible town meeting warrant will ask voters to approve what is described as a specialty cinema at MarketStreet Lynnfield. The debate looks like it won't be an easy one.

As reported last week on this website, National Development expects to ask voters at Lynnfield town meeting to approve what is described as a speciality cinema for Phase 2 of the MarketStreet Lynnfield project.

Phase 2 would not open until late 2014 or early 2015, Ted Tye of National Development told Lynnfield Patch earlier this month. .

While the proposed 8-screen cinema itself is new, discussions of a movie theater at MarketStreet Lynnfield have been going on since the earliest days of the project in 2007 when an initial proposal envisioned 16 screens before being scaled back.

A movie theater was not included as a permitted zoning use back in 2007 for what would become MarketStreet Lynnfield, and in 2009, the idea came up short of the required two-thirds majority at town meeting. Still, Tye pointed out last week that the proposal was still able to get a majority vote while the recession was still underway and while construction was still very far off. This year's town meeting is scheduled for April 29th.

This week, Lynnfield residents Wallace McKenzie and Joe DeMaina spoke with Lynnfield Patch about their concerns regarding the proposed specialty cinema. Both are among the Lynnfield residents who live closest to the project. Since the early days of the project, the two have been among its most high-profile critics. During this week's conversation with Lynnfield Patch, both reiterated their longstanding beliefs that project in the long run will be bad for the town's property values and character - while also maintaining that the movie theater is inconsistent with MarketStreet as an upscale destination.

"One fear is that this thing will continually get worse if you don't make a stand at some point," said DeMaina. "You have to at some point enforce the rules that everyone agreed to."

For his part, McKenzie downplayed the idea that the two were speaking out in opposition to the proposed cinema at MarketStreet. "It's not opposing it," he said. "What we're asking is for National Development to honor the commitment that was made back in 2007."

McKenzie also believes that town voters' initial approval of MarketStreet "never would have happened" if they had known that six years later, the question of a cinema would be back front and center. While Phase 2 would not open until perhaps 2015, the two also noted that the traffic upgrades at Walnut Street and the initial police/fire needs were not made with the expectation of a theater in the mix. Five or so months before the first store has opened off Walnut Street, said DeMaina, there's "not enough room" for traffic under the current layout.

Last week, Tye told Lynnfield Patch that the proposed cinema is "something really tailored to this development and Lynnfield" and that it would also be a a third to half the size of movie theaters found elsewhere on Route 128. The National Development managing partner also reported that the cinema would be located in a far corner of MarketStreet with no abutters and that it would be "a little more upscale than normal theaters."

Still, both McKenzie and DeMaina questioned just how possible it is to define the "specialty" part of "specialty theater," and they also raised the possibility that in some future year, town voters could be asked to approve more movie screens. McKenzie also noted that a movie theater was one of 14 uses prohibited under zoning bylaws in 2007 for the site. "It's an 8-screen multiplex, let's get over it," said McKenzie.

Editor's Note: Joe DeMaina is the father of Patch Associate Regional Editor Daniel DeMaina.

Jim February 24, 2013 at 03:37 PM
IMHO, this discussion has gone off the rails. The Town of Lynnfield approved the Market Street development years ago, now is not the time to debate the merits of the overall plan. We should debate how a high-end cinema will change the approved development & whether it's something we want in town. I'm looking forward to Mr. Tye's presentation on Monday night & if it goes as expected, I'll be in favor of the "cinema." I expect him to propose a movie experience unlike any that are currently in MA, where buying a seat in advance is like buying a seat on an airplane, the screening rooms are more like a very comfortable living room & the food and drink options are top notch. If you look at the iPic link I posted earlier, it's a game changer in the movie going experience. If we can agree with ND that this is the sort of theater they're putting in, then we have to ask how will that change the development from what is currently approved. My bet is it will attract more people to Market Street to spend more money, but I doubt it'll be "undesirables" others have talked about in this thread. More people means more cars, but is it enough to tip the situation into a nightmare? I think most people coming for movies will come early & stay later, "smoothing" any additional traffic. Added police? We already have a Kings... do we really think a high end cinema will dramatically change those needs? in the end, I'm in favor of a unique, high end screening room coming to Market Street.
Joe DeMaina February 24, 2013 at 04:16 PM
I am sure that ND and their PR people will have a lovely script to present to us on Monday. The problem is that our history with those presentations is once they are approved they are changed. The upscale,destination mall presented and approved is not what we ended up getting.The retail village with regular size, attractive streets has morphed into one 125 wide "street" of parking circled by run of the mill stores not the upscale stores and restaurants we thought that we were getting. The berm presented in promises and pictures that would prevent view of the mall buildings from Walnut Street isn't what they sold us.ND talks a good story but doesn't give you what they say they will in the end.Whatever they tell you Monday will not be what you end up with.
Joe DeMaina February 24, 2013 at 04:17 PM
PS: "a screening room" as you call it might be okay but not 8.
Debbie Pappalardo LaConte February 24, 2013 at 06:58 PM
I looked at the Ipic site and I have to say I was impressed. However, I hate the smell of different types of food, when all mingled together. I'd hate to sit next to someone eating a hot spicy dish, and have to smell it while trying to watch a movie. To me, you watch a film for 2 hrs, you can't eat either before, or after. It just doesn't make sence to me....plus the clinking of glassware, and silverware. Dining can be noisy...AND oops please don't spill that soup on me thank you!!!!!! We just don't need it.
Debbie Pappalardo LaConte February 24, 2013 at 07:01 PM
To Joe DeMania. What you said, this morning at 11:14 needs to be said on Monday night. I don't know how many people will get to speak, but I hope you are one of them. Thanks!
Debbie Pappalardo LaConte February 24, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Joe DeMaina February 24, 2013 at 07:46 PM
I looked at it too but what you see in pretty pictures is not always what you get in reality.We have learned that harsh lesson with the pretty pictures that we have been shown during the debate on this project.
Joe DeMaina February 24, 2013 at 07:50 PM
Thank You Debbie but it has to be more than just me. Please speak up and express your view point at meetings ,in your neighborhood and in letters to the editor.We can't be run over by the ND PR machine again. You have a voice and a vote make yourself heard.It's what democracy is all about.
Frances Fleming February 25, 2013 at 07:03 PM
I vote for a movie theater. I think it sounds like a wonderful addition to this project.
Wallace McKenzie February 26, 2013 at 03:27 AM
Selectman MacKendrick opposes the multiplex. Does not see the benefit and sees the vote dividing the town.
Wallace McKenzie February 26, 2013 at 03:30 AM
Selectman Nelson announced he supports the cineplex. If you know him, please ask him to reconsider. The high level of support is at odd with his past actions. When asked why he is in favor of breaking the agreement he talked about tax revenue. Another good question asked of him is how could he be in favor of it when the article has not even seen it yet. He didn't have a good answer.
Jim February 26, 2013 at 03:31 AM
That's not what I heard tonight. MacKendrick's primary reason for opposing the cinema was because he sees the vote dividing the town. He did not get into detail about the benefits and what he thought of them. Nice try.
Jim February 26, 2013 at 03:37 AM
@Wallace - You and the majority of the mob in attendance tonight took Ted Tye to task tonight for distorting the truth, but you do it too, calling the proposal a "multiplex" and a "cineplex" and the development a mall, even though you know if's nothing like that. Collectively, you may be more to blame for dividing the town than ND is.
Joe DeMaina February 26, 2013 at 11:27 AM
I was very disappointed in the concept that Ted Tye presented. I thought after being rejected for a multiplex (that's what it is Jim, multiple screens) before he would present sometime fresh and new this time. But it is the same tired concept . Put a few premium seats in a theatre and call it a specialty theatre.That's like saying an airplane with first class seats is a specialty airplane.The primary benefit to the town is additional revenue through higher meals taxes but the is seriously suspect. A some said those restaurants like restaurants in the area already are always full on weekend nights.PS: That "mob" were the good people of the neighborhood who are bearing the burden of lowered quality of life and lower property values brought on by this project.Please excuse them for not wanting to bear more sacrifice.
Wallace McKenzie February 26, 2013 at 11:27 AM
Jim, Look at the definition of cineplex and this proposal fits it.
Joe DeMaina February 26, 2013 at 11:39 AM
Jim--you apparently have not been following the changes as Meadow Walk morphed into Market Street. The "Village of Lynnfield" concept with normal size streets has been changed to a 125' wide street of central parking circled by stores. That's a mall--think Wayside Commons. You seem to be accepting the ND PR without thinking clearly about it. That is not useful to anyone or to honest debate and differences of opinions.
Debbie Pappalardo LaConte February 26, 2013 at 01:55 PM
Ted Tye made lots of mistakes last night.....comparing an "Old Town 2 or 4 moviehouse" with an modern, upscale, bar scene, containing 8 theaters here. To me anything over 4 is a mega, or multiplex.....Make it go away!!!!!!
Jim February 26, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Joe - I'm all for an honest, rational debate, but last night was anything but that. It was not a venue for members of our community to discuss and debate the proposal. When one side spews so much venom in a public forum, it makes a rational discussion impossible. As a town, we voted to go into a partnership with ND to build Meadow Walk/Market Street. It's happening. In my opinion, the entire town wants the same thing and that should be aligned with what ND wants. A very successful Market Street for years to come. We benefit from the increased tax base and a great resource for the town and its people. ND has happy/successful tenants. It's a win/win. I don't know about you, but I don't know nearly as much about these projects as Ted does. If our professional partner (remember, our incentives should be aligned) says a high-end theater will be good for Market Street in the long term, we should listen, hear what he has to say and then discuss and debate amongst ourselves. I thought the attack on Ted last night was inappropriate and we should strive to be more professional in the future. I'd love to talk with you to discuss the merits on the proposal in person. I'll try to connect offline.
Joe DeMaina February 26, 2013 at 03:16 PM
Jim-- Be glad to talk to you off line. I (and Wally) have been to almost every meeting over the last 7-8 years on this subject. Hundreds of meeting so I am well informed. I think that you should be careful thinking that a developer who lives and works in Newton always has our best interests at heart. Never forget that for a business the bottom line is profit.We can agree with them were we can and protect our best interests (property values & Quality of Life) were we can't.And in this case a multiplex is not in our best interest. For us the negatives are many and the benefits small. For the businessman the benefits are big. 6,000 more customers a week-end and those are the type of customers that an "upscale" mall might not normally attract.The businessman is thinking about his bottom line not ours. And this is our town not theirs.
Joe DeMaina February 26, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Jim-Not IPic. That would have been a worthwhile conversation.
Jim February 26, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Joe - We have no idea it's not iPic (or similar) and I'm heartened to hear you'd consider an iPic a worthwhile conversation. I'll remember that and hope ND is following this dialogue. For what it's worth, it looks like the iPic business model is based on an 8 screen cinema with roughly 100 seats/cinema, which sounds a lot like what Ted proposed.
Sm February 28, 2013 at 03:56 AM
Just curious if anyone who has joined this discussion actually grew up in Lynnfield?
Wallace McKenzie March 02, 2013 at 09:45 PM
MarketStreet Facebook page has interesting post about promises and six million dollars. If you aren't on Facebook, you can see it at www.topics01940.org
Sydney March 03, 2013 at 03:03 AM
Moved to town in 2001
Sydney March 03, 2013 at 03:30 AM
Left you a note on the Topics01940.org site ... I think you meant "without" not "with" regarding approval of zoning for the movie theater
Wallace McKenzie March 03, 2013 at 03:32 AM
Yes it has been corrected. Thanks
Sydney March 03, 2013 at 03:32 AM
Took a look at the 2007 study of the impact of Market Street on the town .. very interesting how many assumptions have not held. I think we are best served by seeing what impact this beast has on the town before we agree to anything else. Lets get another study and focus on how inaccurate they tend to be ...
Stephanie March 07, 2013 at 02:34 PM
LHS Class of 1981. Very much against the movie theater.
Wallace McKenzie March 08, 2013 at 01:55 AM
National Development delaying presenting an article on the cinema. Details at www.topics01940.org
Joe DeMaina March 08, 2013 at 11:47 AM
National Development has chosen to delay an attempt to convince the town that they and the town need a multiplex at Market Street until the Fall. Now ND should reconsider the idea entirely and choose to Honor The Agreement that they sought and signed with the town and it's neighbors.It's the only fair thing to do.


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