SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 19, 2013

Former church could be demolished

Danvers: Developer wants to build six apartments, store

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — The former Methodist church building on Holten Street in Danvers could come down as soon as mid-March to make way for a mix of apartments and a store.

It’s a project that Danvers developer Peter Pantazelos hopes will help spruce up the area of Holten and Pine streets across the street from McKinnon’s Market.

Pantazelos has been before the Zoning Board of Appeals seeking approval for the project, which would include a retail store on the first floor and six apartments above, Senior Planner Kate Day said. The developer was before the Zoning Board last Monday, and it has not ruled on the project.

The building was most recently home to the Yellow Jackets Too gymnastics club.

The developer is looking to trade one nonconforming use, that of a gym, for another nonconforming use, apartments, in what turns out to be an industrial zone, Building Inspector Richard Maloney said. The project, which also requires the approval of the Planning Board, will come back before the ZBA on Monday, Feb. 25.

A drawing Day has seen of the three-story building shows a roofline, dormer and windows that give a feeling of the facade of the old church building and its old bell tower.

“We are staying with the same footprint,” said Pantazelos, who said the new building would be about where the old church is now. If all goes according to plans and he is able to obtain the necessary permits, including a demolition permit, Pantazelos hopes to tear down the building during the second week of March and break ground by the beginning of April.

Pantazelos is the real estate developer behind the Willowdale office condominiums on Route 114 (Andover Street) in Peabody, behind the North Shore Bank building; Giblees plaza in Danvers, also on Route 114; and the Men’s Wearhouse and Tennessee BBQ building on Route 114 in Peabody, plus others in the area. He’s the landlord of the nearby Pete’s-A-Place building on Pine Street in Danvers.

Pantazelos said this is his first project since the 2009 downturn in the real estate market. He said he sees a future not so much in commercial but in residential construction.

“I think the future is in the apartments,” Pantazelos said. He’s also looking to develop a 16-lot housing development on 5 acres on Archer Street in Swampscott.

The church building on Holten Street is the former home of the Holy Trinity United Methodist Church on Sylvan Street, which in 1958 moved to its present church after the deterioration of its building during the Depression, according to a history of the church on its website. The final service was held in the old church on March 23, 1958. On Palm Sunday, a week later, members processed from the old church to the new one carrying the church’s possessions with them.

Town Archivist Richard Trask bemoaned the loss of the Holten Street church building. He said it dates to the 1870s, and it formerly had Gothic spires and other ornate decorations that were removed as they deteriorated over the years. Several years ago, Trask researched the building for a developer looking into buying and restoring it, but the cost was too high.

“I feel bad they can’t do an adaptive reuse for it,” Trask said, “because it is a benchmark property in Tapleyville.” Tapleyville was once a home to carpet manufacturing in the 1840s and 1850s, Trask said, with the Tapley family importing weavers from Scotland and England. The village later became a center for lamp and shoe making.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.