Housing planned for blighted property on Salem's Bridge Street

KEN YUSZKUS/Staff photoThe former Salem Plumbing Supply building at 43 Bridge St. in Salem is expected to be torn down for new housing. This view shows the Planters Street side of the property.

SALEM — A mostly vacant two-story warehouse along one of the city’s main entrance corridors is finally poised for a makeover.

Salem Plumbing Supply moved to Beverly nearly 30 years ago, but the Sevinor family continued to rent out its original property, at the corner of Bridge and Planters streets in Salem. In recent years, however, the warehouse, along with a small parcel in the rear, has seen little use and has fallen into disrepair.

Everyone agrees: it’s an eyesore.

Today, the siding is clearly dilapidated in the rear of the building — and missing in some spots. A fenced-in parking area is overgrown with weeds. A computer parts shop has been leasing space inside, but the property has been listed for sale for some time.

Local developer Joe Skomurski, who has an agreement to purchase the property, plans to knock it all down and build four single-family homes along the Planters Street side of the lot with a duplex facing Bridge Street.

Each “starter home” will be between 1,500 and 1,600 square feet with three bedrooms and priced affordably, according to Skomurski.

“It’s an eyesore for the neighbors,” he said. “They’ll be happy when it’s gone.”

Neighbors testified to those sentiments during recent hearings with the Zoning Board of Appeals. And Ward 2 Councilor Heather Famico agrees the project “will help rejuvenate the neighborhood.”

“Bridge Street Neck is a great place to live and is becoming even better with the addition of redevelopments such as this, Remond Park, and a newly formed neighborhood association,” Famico said.

Skomurski, a plumber by trade, first set his eye on the old warehouse two-and-a-half years ago.

After negotiating a tentative sale with Salem Plumbing Supply owner Ralph Sevinor, Skomurski successfully petitioned the City Council and Planning Board last October to rezone the property from business to residential and received several variances from the Appeals Board earlier this month.

Sevinor said his father purchased the building for the family business in 1945. Before that, it was a carriage house. He confirmed the sale is pending approval of all permits for the project. According to assessors’ records, the parcel is valued at $430,000.

Five single-family homes and a three-story duplex were originally proposed for the site, but the city felt that was too dense. The city also asked that the duplex, which will be two townhouse-style condos, have frontage on Bridge Street. Each home will have two parking spaces. Sidewalks and granite curbing will be installed on Planters Street.

One last step is to seek a waiver from the city’s demolition delay ordinance.

Since the building is more than 50 years old — it was built in the 1920s — an application for a demolition permit has to be submitted to the Historical Commission, which has up to 180 days to review the significance of the structure. A preliminary decision will be made within 30 days on whether further study is needed.

No objections are anticipated to tearing the building down.

“There’s nothing worth keeping,” said Skomurski. “There’s nothing historic there for sure. The building even leans six inches in the back.”

Sevinor agreed. “That building is in such tough shape now. It’s great that they’re going to knock it down and get a fresh start,” he said.

The new duplex will fit in with the historic character along Bridge Street, in terms of the trim and siding, said attorney Stephen Lovely, who represents Skomurski.

Lovely said there was enthusiasm both from the neighborhood and city officials to work together to redevelop the site — and very few concerns.

“It’s an old, dilapidated warehouse that hasn’t been used in quite a while. I think people would like to see it back to a neighborhood,” he said, adding that the area has become “heavy on commercial development.”

Skomurski hopes to demolish the building later this spring and begin construction in June or July, with homes ready by fall.

Skomurski, who lives in Danvers, has done a number of projects there and completed 20 other housing projects in Salem in recent years, both renovations and new construction.

You can reach John Castelluccio at 978-338-2527, jcastelluccio@salemnews.com or via Twitter at @SNjcastelluccio.

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