Thursday, January 3, 2008

Waterfront condo project 'dead'

Ferris wheel at 289 Derby. The proposed condos would have been six stories or about the height of the spoke of the wheel. Derby Lofts, in the background, is five stories.

The condos next door to SATV are officially dead: Waterfront condo project 'dead' -, Salem, MA

This was a waterfront project, fronting the South River, and Massachusetts has strict regulations on public access to the waterfront. Many private projects, such as the Jefferson apartments on the North River and the condo complex near the Willows and Collins Cove, have public walkways directly on the coast per regulations. The city has been working with the state for several years to build a walkway between Lafayette and Derby St. on the water and the city just got money to build a playground at the Lafayette St. end next to Wendy's.

The developers had to have known this:

"At this point, I would consider it dead," said Henry Bertolon, the Beverly developer who took over the project more than a year ago.

Harborview Place was the victim of a down real estate market and, according to Bertolon, foot-dragging by a state environmental agency. The long delay obtaining a state waterways license from the Department of Environmental Protection hurt the project, he said.
"The DEP sat on it for 15 months," Bertolon said. "It's a shame - they would have been built and sold (by now) if the DEP had been more responsive."
The DEP disputed that claim, saying some of the delay was due to valid issues raised by the public.

Do developers really think, "Oh, we'll get the city, the state and everybody around to rubber-stamp this and ram it through before the economy turns?"

What turnip truck did we fall off of?

A project as complex as that condo, with its underground parking, is not going to be finished or even substantially complete in 15 months! Two other comparable projects in the area, the Derby Lofts project and the old police station each took about 3 years from permitting to construction.

The expansion project at 10 Federal to add three floors did take about 16 months, but there was no parking involved. The parking garage that was planned has been put on hold and perhaps shelved.

It's obvious now that the real estate market was peaking when that project was permitted three years ago. Any informed observer could have seen that but for Upton Sinclair, who said, "It's very difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

Developers and advertisers, the Salem News and the Salem Gazette, have an interest that depends on their deliberately not understanding our economy. Politicians, too. I expect the News to be calling us ignorant peasants who don't appreciate the benefits of development, or is it, the benefits of real estate ads, rampant gentrification and the "cool dynamic hip people" that these ads solicit.

And Tom Furey will say, "Oh, but it's a blow to Salem, a real tragedy!" (And why hasn't Boston and Bridge been developed all these years? Cue the crickets.)

If this does mean that Salem goes down the tubes, perhaps a future government can resolve to do it right and Salem can come back for real next time.

Let's hope.

1 comment:

The Salem Insider said...

I personally feel its a shame this didn't go through. Not that I want to see another 6 story building down town but I appreciate that a developer wants to incorporate parking into the plans of developing condos.

The space in question is a great location and I hope something positive goes in there, right now it looks like a dump waiting to happen.