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Local News

January 31, 2013

Project getting positive reaction

Salem: Residents 'on board' with plan for $45 million downtown development

So far, Salem residents’ reaction to a proposed $45 million downtown development has been somewhat unexpected.

City Councilor Josh Turiel said the feedback he’s gotten has been “overwhelmingly positive — which is surprising, because almost nothing in Salem is overwhelmingly positive.”

But, he said, “at least conceptually, they’re all on board with it.”

Last week, developer RCG unveiled its proposal for a five-to-six-story building at the block bordered by Washington Street, Dodge Street and Dodge Street Court. The complex would have a mix of retail, commercial and residential units; possibilities include shops, offices or even a hotel.

While the project is in the very early stages — it has yet to go before the council or other city boards — Turiel said the emails, phone calls and online comments he’s received have been positive. The development would be located in his ward.

Councilor-at-large William Legault said he has approached some downtown business owners and residents about the proposal, and reaction has been “muted but positive.”

Other councilors said that they haven’t received any feedback yet from residents. Jason Silva, chief aide to Mayor Kim Driscoll, also said this week that the mayor’s office hasn’t heard much from residents on the topic.

The mayor briefed city councilors privately last week. Turiel said he doesn’t know of any councilor who is outright opposed to the project.

Driscoll has proposed including 38 city-owned parking spaces along Washington Street as part of the project. In return, at least 38 of the project’s 275 parking spaces would be made permanently available to the city.

A request to declare the parking lot as surplus will go before the City Council at its next meeting on Feb. 14.

Such a declaration would be needed for the city to put the parcel up for bid, for possible inclusion in RCG’s development.

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