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Local projects get a boost from state

Malden’s plan involves demolishing City Hall and making Pleasant Street the main entryway into the city.Mark Wilson/Globe Staff/File

Malden City Hall could come tumbling down to reconnect Pleasant Street to the
MBTA Orange Line station.

The old police station in Revere, located next to City Hall on Broadway, also would face the wrecking ball to create 50 parking spaces downtown.

Period lights and new sidewalks will help spiff up the Highlands neighborhood in Melrose. Chelsea’s urban renewal area — lots and blocks of land just off Route 1 — will get new water and sewer mains to aid development of a hotel, apartments, and a business center.

These local development projects, many in the pipeline for years, got a boost last week when the state awarded a total of $8.5 million in MassWorks grant money to fund infrastructure improvements.

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“Given the state of local finances, we know very well that these communities are not going to be able to pay for this kind of infrastructure on their own,” said Greg Bialecki, the state’s housing and economic development secretary, who visited each city last week to announce the grants. “We’re investing money in a diversity of projects that will bring strong, stable economic growth.”

The awards include:

■  Chelsea: $3 million to replace water mains and sewer lines and make roadway and sidewalk repairs to support new development in its urban renewal district, including the second phase of One North , a market-rate apartment complex now being built just off Route 1 north.

■  Malden: $3 million to demolish City Hall and make Pleasant Street the main entryway to the city’s downtown. The project also will help the city meet a goal of building 500 new housing units in the area.

■  Melrose: $960,000 to repave more than 100 parking spaces in four city-owned lots; rebuild sidewalks; install new lighting; and improve traffic and pedestrian signals in the area of the Melrose Highlands MBTA commuter rail station.

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■  Revere: $1.5 million to demolish the former police station next to City Hall to create 50 parking spaces and add new sidewalks, lighting, and crosswalks in the downtown business district.

The four cities are among seven local communities — along with the Boston neighborhoods of East Boston and Charlestown — designated by the state as the Metro North region.

Millions of dollars in private investment, such as One North in Chelsea and the Assembly Row development in Somerville, is generating new housing and job opportunities.

“These communities are very attractive to the private marketplace,” Bialecki said, standing in the new $50 million One North apartment complex. “We’re not in favor of making longshot investments. We’re targeting infrastructure investment in areas where we think it will leverage private investment.”

Local officials say the state assistance is essential to lay the foundation of growth.

“This is one of our greatest opportunities to rejuvenate economic development in a key area of our city,” said Melrose Mayor Robert J. Dolan.

The grant is among the largest for economic development ever awarded to Melrose, Dolan said.

The city has been looking to invest in the Highlands, a neighborhood close to Stoneham and Wakefield that also has a busy commuter rail station. “We feel very strongly that the improvements we plan there will renew the area,” Dolan said.

Malden Mayor Gary Christenson said the $3 million grant will help in redevelopment of the City Hall parcel.

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“They’ve made a tremendous investment as we move forward with the process,” Christenson said.

Demolition of Malden City Hall has been talked about for years. But the idea gained new momentum in August, when the Malden Redevelopment Authority issued a request for proposals from developers to acquire the 2.19-acre site.

The city received four proposals, which are now being reviewed, Christenson said.

“I think this [grant] will help the process along, because a developer won’t have to pick up the whole cost of demolishing the building and reconnecting the street,” he added.

In Revere, the city already has invested about $500,000 to install new sidewalks, crosswalks, and lighting downtown, and the state investment should boost restaurants and shops along Broadway, Mayor Dan Rizzo said.

“We believe the type of infrastructure we’re looking at, such as new parking, is necessary if we are going to drive new business in our central business district,” Rizzo said.

In Chelsea, the new sewers and water mains will lay the foundation of growth in an old industrial area beside Route 1. Spruce Street would be widened, and new lighting and crosswalks installed as part of the plan.

The $3 million is the third MassWorks grant awarded to Chelsea for its urban renewal district. In all, the city has received $6 million to aid new development in the area, such as a new 152-room Holiday Inn planned for the corner of Beech and Carter streets, and construction of a 250,000-square foot office building on Everett Avenue that will become the new regional headquarters of the FBI.

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“Chelsea is on the move,” City Manager Jay Ash said, as he accepted the most recent MassWorks grant at a ceremony held at the One North construction site. “Developments, like the one we’re standing in now, are another example of the progress we’re making as a city.”


Kathy McCabe can be reached at katherine.mccabe@ globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.