SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

January 24, 2013

$45M project proposed

Downtown development would include stores, residences

SALEM — A Somerville developer with a major stake in the city wants to construct a $45 million project in the downtown with retail stores, offices, residences and possibly even a hotel.

RCG has unveiled plans in recent days for a sprawling five-to-six-story building on a quiet city block bordered by Washington Street, Dodge Street and Dodge Street Court.

The proposed construction site is on the edge of Mill Hill on land that was once home to Billy Ray’s Laundromat and a billiards parlor. The company bought the property in 2006 as part of a blockbuster $20 million downtown real estate deal.

This would be the largest project that RCG has undertaken locally since the development of the former Salem Evening News property several years ago, which is now home to Tavern in the Square. The company also owns the City Hall Annex at 120 Washington St., with a number of restaurants on the ground floor.

In recent years, RCG has kept a relatively low profile, waiting out a real estate collapse and slow recovery.

“As we look out into the future, we’re optimistic now is the right time to get started ...” said Matt Picarsic, a principal of RCG. “There’s a lot of good things happening in Salem.”

Before it files plans, however, RCG will have to wait while the City Council considers a request from Mayor Kim Driscoll to abandon a small section of a city parking lot along Washington Street, declare the land surplus and, eventually, put it up for sale.

The idea of incorporating part of the parking lot into the development was first proposed by the Planning Department, officials said, to allow RCG’s large new building to be located closer to Washington Street, with parking behind it, to give the project an “urban feel” and connect it to the downtown.

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