Putting tiny apartments on Main bad for downtown revitalization plans

4 Dec

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Well, here we go again.

Just when we all thought that we were taking steps in the right direction when it came to revitalizing Peabody’s downtown, our Community Development Department becomes an accomplice again in a familiar game where greedy developers to do whatever they want, wherever they want.

Developers will be before the city council tomorrow night seeking a special permit to shoe-horn 10 one-bedroom, 500-square foot apartments into an old office building at 98 Main Street. That’s great, just what we need downtown, more potential and transient Section 8 housing.

When will this all stop? When will the leaders in Community Development understand it’s not just about development?

It’s about responsible development.

I say this already knowing that Community Development has given its blessing to this ill-advised project. I say ill-advised not because there’s no parking, and not because I’m against residential development in the downtown.

It’s ill-advised because this is prime commercial space, where we should be encouraging mixed-use and the type of development that will make our downtown as vibrant as Salem’s. If we’re going to go the mixed-use route, with shops, restaurants, and other businesses on the first floor, and residential living spaces above, I’m all for that. But these residential living spaces need to be higher end, and be able to attract people who actually have disposable income to spend downtown.

I say all of this while recognizing the need for affordable housing. But our downtown will never become what we want it to be by putting these types of units right in the heart of what needs to become Peabody’s downtown Renaissance.

Call them apartments, if you want, but what’s being proposed here isn’t much grander than your average rooming house.

The city council doesn’t just need to ask serious questions tomorrow night. It needs to reject this plan for the good of the city’s revitalization efforts.

10 Responses to “Putting tiny apartments on Main bad for downtown revitalization plans”

  1. Anonymous December 4, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

    What will the rent be on these apartments? I’m looking for a place for my mother-in-law.

  2. anonymous too December 5, 2013 at 5:48 am #

    I think some nice big loft apartments to attract the yuppie couples with young children would be great to revitalize downtown.. We have enough crammed in apts. look at that monstrosity on Walnut street for instance. Or the one of Foster St. or the housing on Crowninshield…and I could name more..

  3. the Outfront Guy* December 5, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    OG says…this is where OG goes off the edge and gets back to calling this place Dark City…this is yet another example of the fact that we just don’t get it here…we can’t get out of our own way…and something is lacking with respect to good old fashioned community development instincts…we are hopeless and I have lost any last speck of faith that we can find our way out of this paper bag we are in…and that’s how OG sees it.

  4. Ann December 5, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    You will not get anyone to buy a high end condo if there is nothing in the downtown for them to want to be near! We need to fix the downtown and make people want to go there first, then we can offer them a chance to live among it. Why would anyone buy a condo in the downtown now?? Investment- maybe but that means renting to Sec 8 to pay the mortgage, (we are still in a struggling economy) and them if we ever get our act together maybe moving in themselves or selling at a profit. Either way it will not be a help to improving the downtown. We just cant seem to get out of this mind set that ‘apartments’ will help improve the downtown.

  5. Anon December 5, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    This is just another slam dunk deal by the new administration. Stop all of your whining.

  6. the Outfront Guy* December 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    OG says…so what are you suggesting Ann? you don’t want condos…you don’t want apartments…what do you want then?

  7. Bob Croce December 6, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    Just an update, and we’ll be following this as things develop, but after an attempted “compromise,” the city council did the right thing last night and rejected this proposal by the vote of 5-5.

    • Anonymous December 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      I am very happy to see the turning down of the plan to have a “rooming house” on Main Street as it were by the city officials. As a former resident I remember where the present Dunkin Donuts is there was a wooden framed building that housed to many persons ,male and female,who were down and out. Among them were alcoholics and others who were of may other types of illness’s . Some were just down on their luck and so called normal. There was never a death from a fire in that multi storied building due to some person always being awake 24 hours a day due to the alcoholic dt’s ,etc. There weren’t any real fire preventive measures in the building to speak of except for the human factor[s] of presence there. At the top floor there was a long rope ladder that could be thrown out the window to escape an unfortunate emergency situation assuming you were able to get or be on that floor. If I remember correctly there was a bar room owned by a Gerish family on the right of the building on the first floor . I could be wrong on the exact location of the bar room. I am sure there can be some other use for the Main Street building that could enhance upper Main Street and the over all down town area. – To insure the best and correct way of use concerning the Main Street site a look at the past histories within the fire department and police departments records should and would be enough to help in the way of direction of the reclaiming of a future busy down town as it was in my youth.

      • Anonymous December 6, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

        I forgot to say that this rooming house was also known as “The House Of Horrors” . Sorry ,I guess I’m really getting old having not to say what it was commonly known as. Maybe some one as old as me or older can remember what I’ve written here. I should welcome any “old days” remembrance of Peabody. Does anyone remember Kennedy’s butter and egg store on Main Street or Carols cut rate store at the corner of Main and Foster Street? When WW2 was declared over I can remember the monument was in the middle of the square and a bonfire was lit around it.The square was crowded with most everyone in the city celebrating victory at last.

  8. Anonymous December 8, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    With great surprise I’d say there were no one in the city willing to share or wanting to share past memories. The past is what gives change in the future ,usually for the better but not always so.

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