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July 8, 2014

Eliminating the legwork

Peabody tries new approach to redeveloping eyesore

PEABODY — The rundown brick building at 70 Endicott St. has been a blight on the neighborhood for years, city officials say. Now they believe they finally have a plan to put the property back into productive use.

The city has secured a permit to raze the building and is proposing a plan for eight condos on the site. Mayor Ted Bettencourt said a pre-permitted project should be more attractive to developers than the city’s past attempts to redevelop the former municipal building, which has been vacant since 2006.

Once all permits are in place, the project would be put out for public bid.

“It’s a blighted site that has hurt that neighborhood,” Bettencourt said. “It’s an ugly site to look at every day for the residents.” Further, he said, it’s been a target for vandalism.

At one point in 2008, the city had to clean up an oil spill after someone stole copper lining attached to oil tanks inside the building. Broken windows have also been boarded up by the city. Bettencourt said redevelopment will greatly improve quality of life in the neighborhood.

“The building that’s there needs to come down or be redone,” said Dennis Feld, owner of Evans Flowers, which is directly across the street. “It’s a hazard, it’s a danger, and it’s a nightmare. It would be a great thing for the neighborhood whatever they do there.”

Feld, who is also a member of the Planning Board, said he hasn’t seen specific plans yet. The Conservation Commission issued a demolition permit this spring that’s valid for three years and will review a redevelopment proposal this month. Some zoning relief is also needed. A Request for Proposals will then be passed on to the City Council for approval.

In 1891, the fledgling Peabody Municipal Light Plant built its first power station at 70 Endicott St. The steam-powered plant served as the light plant’s home base until the mid-1940s, when a housing boom and greater service demand led to construction of a larger power plant. The facility at Warren Street Extension was built in 1948, and 70 Endicott St. was converted into offices and a garage.

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