Thursday, July 17, 2008

Salem Jail Update, July 2008

The Salem Jail, jailer’s house.

Old Salem Ventures LLC was at the Salem Planning Board meeting with an amendment to their earlier plans.  The original plans called for a renovation of the historic buildings (the Jail and the jailer’s house) and a new condo and parking structure next to St. John’s church.

Due to market conditions (naw, really?), they have requested that the project be split into two phases.  Phase one would involved the historical buildings.  Phase two would be the new construction previously discussed.

Parking for phase one will be entirely on-site;  there were earlier plans for the new condo building to have spaces at Museum Place.  Presumably, if phase two goes forward, this will still be in effect.

The rep for Old Salem Ventures was very concerned about the configuration of the traffic island at Howard St.  They wanted a driveway into the vehicle entrance of the old jail, and presently there isn’t one.  There is a curb cut for a small driveway on the old Bridge St. side of the island, but it was obviously designed for service access as in a park, and not for heavy vehicles.  (You can see the plans at Most Salemmites are uninformed on the bypass road.)

MassHighway was “scared of making changes” as the rep put it.  No surprise there, as close to the end of the project as it is. 

As several board members pointed out, the island is going to be turned over to the city as soon as the project is complete and the city has accepted it, so why not wait until that’s done?

Some on Salemweb have been complaining about the unfinished traffic island; they may be waiting a bit longer for relief.

The Planning Board was trying to pin down Old Salem Ventures on some details pertaining to Phase two;  however, if these details were firmed up, it probably wouldn’t have been necessary for the developers to phase it in the first place!

Old Salem Ventures is “closing the project right now”.  It’s been a long three years since I got the letter from the Salem Housing Authority (they are abutters) notifying us they would start construction.

Could this be moving forward? 

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