, Salem, MA


July 10, 2013

New building revitalizes former fire scene

SWAMPSCOTT — More than two years ago, a massive fire destroyed a block of apartments and stores at the corner of Humphrey and Redington streets, tearing at the fabric of the downtown business district.

But a new building has opened up opportunities for new businesses, bringing a beach feel and some jobs back to the gateway of Swampscott.

Of the six former commercial tenants in the building, only one, Raina’s Hair Color Studio by the Sea, has reopened in the new building. The other new tenants, Ocean House Surf Shop, Sea Glass Wine and Beer, and Oyo Frozen Yogurt, have opened in recent months and weeks.

“I have to say, we are very pleased with it,” said Jayne Orloff Carey, who owns the building with her brothers. “It has become a beautiful landmark for the gateway to Swampscott.”

The fire, on March 1 and 2, 2011, destroyed the three-story wood and stucco building at 128-140 Humphrey St. that contained six businesses and six apartments. About 12 people were left homeless, and business owners had to find new locations.

The smoldering ruins were quickly torn down, leaving a large, fenced-in hole in front of Hadley Elementary School. The Orloff family, owners of the building for more than 40 years (officially under the name Gary Realty Associates LLC), vowed to rebuild.

The project cost nearly $500,000, according to Swampscott town records: $73,000 to demolish the building and $418,000 to construct the shell of the building, with tenants pulling permits for the final fit out, Swampscott local inspector/facilities coordinator Rich Baldacci said.

The Orloffs could have built a three-story, mixed-use building but instead chose to construct a contemporary single-story commercial building that could accommodate up to five tenants.

“With insurance, we didn’t have a huge amount,” Carey said. Keeping the building strictly commercial allowed the owners to keep the project financed within the family.

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