SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

May 2, 2014

Mayor rejects McKay School offers

BEVERLY — Mayor Mike Cahill has rejected the latest offers to buy the former McKay School, marking the third time in the last six years the city has turned down bids for the empty building.

Cahill said he rejected two proposals because they were too big for the neighborhood, and disqualified the third offer because it lacked the required financial information.

The city has not given up hope of selling the building, however. Cahill said the city has already begun writing a new request for proposals that he hopes will draw more suitable ideas.

“We’re trying to restructure the request for proposals so it will bring us a development that works on that site,” he said.

The three proposals called for building 38 condominiums, 51 apartments, or 13 single-family homes on the 2.1-acre site on McKay Street, across from Beverly Golf and Tennis Club. The single-family home plan would have required demolition of the former school, which was built in 1906 and closed in 2002.

All three bid prices were just over $1 million, slightly higher than offers rejected by former Mayor Bill Scanlon in 2008 and 2010.

Cahill said the sale price is part of the consideration, but a project’s potential impact on the neighborhood is also key.

The proposal for 13 single-family homes “was not consistent with the scale and character of the neighborhood,” he said. The plans would have required several waivers and variances from city boards that, if not granted, “could leave the city months to years down the road with no building project,” he said.

The project also could have faced a one-year delay before the building could be demolished.

The plan to convert the school into 30 apartments and build 21 more units in newly constructed buildings “would overwhelm the site and would be out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood,” Cahill said. The apartments would have been affordable units at 30 to 60 percent of the area’s median income.

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