BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — Demolition began yesterday on the vacant Bonfanti leather factory, the final building that has to come down before construction can begin on a long-delayed $20 million apartment development along the North River.
A contractor hired by developers Mike O’Brien and David Walsh razed a three-story house on Mason Street on Thursday, and began work yesterday afternoon in the rain on the adjacent and much larger Bonfanti building.
Both properties are next to the former Salem Suede factory site on Flint Street. Together, the sites form a large property where the 130-apartment complex, Riverview Place, will be built.
The two factories were once part of a thriving industrial and manufacturing area along the river.
The developers still need to obtain a Chapter 91 waterways license from the state, but have secured all local approvals. Although it is hard to predict when the state will rule on the permit, the developers hope to begin construction next spring, according to their attorney.
Demolition of L. Bonfanti Inc., 69 Mason St., which is squeezed next to private homes, is expected to take three or four days.
The factory was scheduled to be razed in the spring, when the developers obtained a waiver of the city’s demolition delay ordinance. However, it took longer than expected to disconnect utilities and take care of other last-minute matters, Walsh said.
The sprawling Salem Suede buildings were taken down months ago.
Meanwhile, work continues on the site cleanup, which is expected to cost up to $400,000, according to Scott Grover, the developers’ attorney.
“Even though you can’t see it, there’s a lot of cleanup activity going on,” Grover said.
Riverview Place, which survived a court challenge, has been a long time coming. Plans were first announced in 2007.
Tom Dalton can be reached at email@example.com.