WOBURN - The landscape along I-93 at the old “Gelly” site in East Woburn has changed as the old has given way to the new.
With a full audience of Woburn city officials and Stoneham town officials, Woburn Fire Dept. personnel, as well as Mayor Scott Galvin standing in attendance, one of four smokestacks at The Vale site (old Kraft Food and Atlantic Gelatin site) crumpled to earth in an area just behind the familiar McDonald’s site off Montvale Avenue, as site development continues at The Vale.
The four smokestacks approached landmark significance over the years on a power station known as the Russell Station.
The facility, located at the northeast end of the 60-acre Woburn site, was well known to owners, workers, visitors and anyone driving down I-93 heading to Boston (the driver of any vehicle along I-93 south was probably aghast to see a smokestack just disappear!).
Instead of an explosion, the existing wire supports were used to anchor the tower from its roots atop the two-story power plant and cut before the pull-down.
An excavator spent little effort as the wires and bottom of one chimney on the northerly end were gripped and yanked to the ground amidst the “oooohs” and “aaaahs” of invited guests.
In turning and looking south and west, onlookers could easily see the site development near the Stoneham-Winchester hilltop, as well as removal of two major buildings to the west.
“That’s senior housing you see underway,” noted Senior Vice President Chad Reynolds, of Leggat McCall Properties of Boston, pointing to the two excavators doing site development work atop a high hill to the south near the Winchester-Stoneham line..
“The demolition will still be taking place for the next couple of months,” Reynolds reported, as cold rain gripped the 60-acre site in East Woburn.
Also, Reynolds pointed out another facility is being developed facing I-93 “and right now we are looking for tenants.”
“The rest of the development will be underway in the middle to the end of next year,” he reported.
The development also includes condos, plus a plentiful supply of commercial buildings from offices to hospital facilities. In a line going both along I-93, he pointed out, a Massachusetts General Brigham facility will be built and would become highly visible.
In all, there could be 1.8 million square feet of redeveloped space in the new Technology and Business Use Overlay District (TBOD).
The initial plans a year ago showed:
• Nearly 880,000 square feet of Class A office and research and development (R&D) space;
• A 79,200 sq. ft hotel with 135 guest rooms;
• A 300-unit apartment complex comprising a total of 447,00 sq. ft.;
• A 100-unit senior housing building;
• A 105-unit assisted living/Alzheimer’s care facility;
• 75 townhomes;
• 125 multi-family housing units;
• Parking garage for structure containing a total of 2,865 units.