SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

June 14, 2013

Next redevelopment frontier?

On hold for years, work starts in Blubber Hollow

SALEM — It would be easy to drive down one-way Goodhue Street and not notice an elevator shaft rising from a vacant lot. And it would be even easier not to see it as the dawn of a new era.

But just maybe, in this late spring of 2013, we are seeing the start of significant construction in Blubber Hollow, the former leather and manufacturing district along the North River canal that local officials hope will be the next redevelopment frontier.

A case in point is 28 Goodhue St., the 2-acre lot where, in the past few weeks, workers have laid a foundation and built an elevator shaft, the first stages in the construction of a housing development that has been waiting in the wings for years.

Developer Anthony Roberto bought this property in 2003 and got Planning Board approval seven years ago. The project was on hold while the city rezoned the North River Canal Corridor and then sat idle while Roberto waited out a national housing crisis.

Suddenly, things are moving. Structural steel will arrive soon for a project expected to take 18 months to complete.

“Financially, it made sense,” Roberto said of his decision to begin now.

“I think it’s exciting to see this coming off the drawing board ...” said Mayor Kim Driscoll. “I think it says something about the Salem market — the market is finally strong enough to support new, mixed-use development.”

Roberto is building 45 residences, which could be marketed as apartments or condominiums. “It depends on how the market is,” he said. “We’re still up in the air right now.”

There will be commercial or retail space on the first floor. The developer also will build a section of a new pedestrian pathway along the canal.

City officials hope 28 Goodhue St. is the first of several large and long-delayed developments to come on line.

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