, Salem, MA

Local News

July 15, 2014

Peabody has mixed success dealing with abandoned homes

Some homes sold or rebuilt; others languish

PEABODY — In January 2013, the city gave a state task force a list of 12 abandoned homes that city officials said were hurting neighborhoods around Peabody. The goal was to allow the attorney general’s office to put pressure on those property owners and motivate them to take action, since the city had been unsuccessful.

A year and a half later, half of those homes have either been sold and redeveloped or are being renovated now.

Many of the dilapidated, boarded-up homes are not in highly trafficked areas of the city but, rather, have sat empty for years in residential neighborhoods, said Mayor Ted Bettencourt.

The “biggest success” to date, he said, is a colonial home at 6 Overlea Ave. that was barely visible from the street due to overgrown trees and shrubbery. It was finally sold by the out-of-town owner in December for $50,000 and torn down. A new home has been built in its stead.

“It hurts the overall quality of life. ... They’re just a blight,” Bettencourt said of abandoned homes.

That’s why he partnered with the attorney general’s Abandoned Housing Initiative; the AG’s office can threaten state-appointed receivership if the owner doesn’t come up with a plan to rehab the property.

The plan appears to be working, though slowly. Bettencourt said three homes were placed into receivership; others were finally resolved in probate court, sold or renovated, and still others simply required the threat of action to force a resolution. The city has now identified another 20 buildings to forward to the AG’s office for action.

Jillian Fennimore, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, confirmed that cases on five of the 12 properties are closed, although 83 Winona St. was deemed “not economically feasible for receivership.” That split-entry home in West Peabody is shrouded by trees, shrubs and weeds. It was sold in 2010 for $136,290, according to city records, but has been abandoned since at least 2012.

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