The Hilltop cactus sticks with new development

The Boston Globe | By Adam Vaccaro
January 18, 2017

The Hilltop Steak House may be gone, but the giant cactus that for decades stood outside the iconic Route 1 restaurant will stay potted in place.

The developer planning to turn the former restaurant into a housing and retail outpost told Saugus officials at a public meeting Tuesday night that the colorful 68-foot cactus sign would be incorporated into the new project.

“It really is an important marker for the site. It really does represent the history of the site, and our intent is to keep it,” Michael Roberts, senior vice president of Boston development for developer AvalonBay Communities, said in an interview Wednesday.

The cactus likely needs new lighting and other renovations, Roberts said. It’s also unclear what the signage on the cactus will eventually read.

But its survival represents another reprieve for a Route 1 landmark as the quirky commercial stretch of road undergoes a big face lift with several new planned developments. The large orange dinosaur at Route One Miniature Golf & Batting Cages, which was closed last fall, is also expected to be worked in to a redevelopment of that property.

There may not be a lifeboat for every icon, however. Developers recently proposed replacing The Ship Restaurant in Lynnfield, which resembles the vessel its name suggests, with retail buildings.

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