Tag Archives: Peabody hotel

Peabody’s dead zone downtown takes another hit, beat goes on

31 May

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

At this point, why not just build a slot machine parlor, a petting zoo, or … even a roller coaster?

Or, in an effort to fit with the rest of the surroundings in Peabody Square, why not attract another barber shop, nail salon or liquor store to the now up-for-auction O’Shea Building at the corner of Main and Foster?

Get a haircut on the first floor, a manicure on the second, and then treat yourself to some tasty Mad Dog 20/20 on the rotting third floor of the historic building. You can share your tasty beverage with the urban “campers,” who have taken over the square, which these days looks like one of those Arizona ghost towns at night, minus the tumble weeds of course.

Ghost-Town_Sample

Peabody Square on a Saturday night?

Might as well, since our civic leaders, especially His Honor the Mayor, Ted Bettencourt, have no other clue, have no real plan for revitalizing our downtown. They have no idea on how to grow our commercial tax base, and take the pressure off residential ratepayers, who have endured 14 straight years of tax increases.

And, another increase is coming in December, so Merry Christmas, Peabody!

What’s the fastest way to scrape the Teflon off Teflon Ted? Well, just keep raising taxes on seniors on fixed incomes, who are by far our largest voter base. The “Oh, what a nice young man,” he’s heard for years from the blue hair set could soon be replaced with an “up yours, sonny!”

The latest disaster downtown?

Well, the Salem News reported today that plans to convert the O’Shea Building into a boutique hotel (or, if you prefer, more “much-needed” apartments) have ended because of financial difficulties of yet another dubious local “developer.”

In the words of the boys in “Animal House” after wrecking the Caddy Flounder borrowed from his brother …

“You screwed up … you trusted us!”

Of course,  the other question here is how are we going to get back the $200K the city gave this character by way of a business loan?

The O’Shea Building disaster could be a poster child for the failed efforts to revitalize the downtown area under Bettencourt, a happenstance for which the Mayor only has himself to blame. After all, there remains no strategic plan for redevelopment, only starts and stops, failed hunches, and deals with developers, who would turn the downtown into a Syrian refugee camp … if they thought that’s how they could make the most dough.

What happened with the O’Shea Building is what happens all the time in Peabody. The Mayor and several city councilors get duped after some fly-by-night developer makes goo goo eyes at them, and maybe even a few very legal campaign contributions.

In this case, this pipe dream of a project had trouble written all over it from the start as the developer first talked about a hotel with a restaurant before morphing the project (as the all seem to) into apartments instead of a hotel.

In case you haven’t noticed, the only real development downtown the past 20 years has been shoe-box apartments, many of which have turned into Section 8 Housing. Not sure those poor people have the discretionary “cake” to buy lattes at the fantasy cafes, sample small plates at the fictitious bistros, or shop at the imaginary boutiques that now line Main Street.

But don’t blame the developers, who have about as many scruples as most members of Congress. They’re just trying to make a buck.

Blame the continued blight downtown on the city council and the 9-to-5er who currently occupies the corner office at city hall.

The fact is, despite being in office for almost six years, His Honor still had NO plan for revitalizing downtown. He has surrounded himself with yes men who have no clue, and has no interest in finding talented people who know how to improve things the way they have — in dramatic fashion — in places such as Newburyport, Salem, or even Danvers. Instead of hiring true experience and talent for important community development positions, Bettencourt chooses instead to rely on the “friends and family plan” for filling those very critical jobs.

Oh sure, they’ve moved that poor monument a few times, and made Main Street so much safer for pedestrians. It’s only too bad that there aren’t enough pedestrians to enjoy not being hit by a car, since there’s very few who come downtown for anything. I mean, I like Brodie’s too, but how many chicken fingers can one person eat!?

While Salem, Beverly and Danvers are bustling on a Fridays or Saturdays, there’s plenty of available parking in Peabody Square. Of course, that parking has a one-hour time limit, which makes about as much sense as the Mayor’s imaginary revitalization plan.

“I think there’s real value to that (O’Shea) building,” Bettencourt told the Salem News, the Mayor no doubt very optimistic about my roller coaster suggestion. “It has some charm, it’s in a great location … I probably have had a dozen developers in the last few years inquiring (about it).”

But no takers, and now a listing by JJ Manning Auctioneers states the auction will be held today, 11 a.m. at 9 Main St. According to the Salem News, the terms of sale include a 10 percent deposit with $50,000 down, and the rest within three days.

I hear that wannabe liquor store owners are already camping out so they can be first in line.