By Carol McCracken (Post # 785)
Citing a lack of financing, last night the stalled condo development, Bay House, asked the planning board to extend its conditional zone agreement until September 22nd of next year. The board voted unanimously to recommend to the city council that such an extension be granted to the Village at Ocean Gate. Part of that recommendation included details for maintaining the property in better condition than it has been in the past. The proposed major development is located at 112 Newbury Street on the site of the former Village Cafe restaurant.
In 2008, the applicant was granted a permit to raze the Village Cafe restaurant. Since that time, safeguards put in place by the city to prevent erosion of sidewalks on Middle and Hancock Streets have failed. In addition, the vacant lot has become a dumping ground for old furniture and it provides space for the homeless – all of which neighbors in the area have complained about repeatedly. At the outset of his presentation to the planning board, Demetri Dasco told the board that John Thurston of J&T Services had been hired to provide on-going maintenance of the site and cleaning up of the area had begun. Greg Shinberg has been hired to coordinate the sidewalk maintenance and repair work.
Dasco told the board that he is disappointed the site has not been redeveloped, but there is strong interest in the units. Lenders are becoming more interested now and he is working with four lending insitutions who have indicated interest in the redevelopment. Two local real estate agents confirmed the significant interest in the units. Planning board member Michael Patterson said “it would be foolhardy not to extend the expiration date until next September. It could take longer to develop the property if the extension is not granted.” Carol Morrissette, vice chair, said she had no reservations in granting an extension. She was very concerned about the condition of the property, however.
Allison Brown, president of the India Street Neighborhood Assocation, spoke to the planners in oppostion to the extension of time. She said it’s a massive structure completely out of character with the surrounding neighborhood. And that until very recently, the property had been allowed to deteriorate. It has adversely impacted the neighborhood. Hugh Nazor, treasurer of the Assocation, said that “something needs to be built soon. The homeless population is growing and the graffiti is growing.” Almost a dozen residents and business owners in the area attended the meeting, but not all addressed the board.
The matter will be read for the first time at a city council meeting next month.