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CHELSEA, MA-On Winnisimmet Street in Downtown, Capitol Construction of Boston has started demolishing four buildings to make way for an 18,000-sf, three-story, $1.8-million project that in eight months will be home to a new Cinco de Mayo Mexican restaurant. Nearby, at Fourth Street and Broadway, a CVS store with underground parking and two stories of residential units is under construction. Just down the street, a former office and residential building is being turned into apartments.

The development surge that has been under way in most Bay State cities for years is finally hitting Downtown Chelsea and city officials couldn’t be happier. “In the next few years, we expect to see the half-mile renaissance,” Josh Monahan, a projects coordinator for the city, tells GlobeSt.com, referring to the half mile stretch of storefront businesses that make up Downtown.

Long ignored by developers, Chelsea has gained renewed interest recently because of its prime location just across the Tobin Bridge from Boston and its relatively cheap, by comparison, real estate prices.

“Chelsea is like a diamond in the rough,” Don Harney, executive director with the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, tells GlobeSt.com. “It’s really a very vibrant location.”

At just 1.8 square miles, Chelsea is the state’s smallest city and one of its poorest with a per capita income of $14,628. About 23.3% of its population lives below the poverty line. But with prime waterfront acreage overlooking the Boston harbor, a bustling commercial district and a location closer to Downtown Boston than some of that city’s neighborhoods, developers are taking note.

Sam McClain, president and CEO of Capital Construction, is one of the pioneers of Chelsea’s revitalization. His project at 139-143 Winnisimmet St. will take out an empty lot “and a couple of ugly buildings” and replace them with a modern edifice that will mark the gateway to the city’s center. “Projects like this will help revitalize some nightlife down there,” McClain tells GlobeSt.com.

City officials are hoping it will too. Monahan says recent development interest in Chelsea is spurring businesses and city officials to work together to create a plan that will outline the future of Downtown.

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