Progress on the two construction projects in Blubber Hollow at the foot of Gallows Hill has been substantial.
First up, the Community Life Center (known to ordinary mortals as the Salem Senior Center) on Bridge Street. Just a slab foundation when last visited, but has now been almost completely framed and enclosed. Only the roof frame needs to be completed. The size of the building is surprisingly modest, just two stories, and an entirely wood frame, no steel or reinforced concrete.
Two aspects of the building that draw the eye. First, there are almost no windows on the Bridge Street facade. A design choice perhaps to minimize traffic noise? Second, and related, the building faces what will be the parking lot to the rear of the Bridge St facade. Putting the parking in back is a commendable design choice, aimed to avoid the foul “strip mall aesthetic” far too common in commercial and public buildings. But not having access off the sidewalk along Bridge St might mean that pedestrian visitors will have to traverse the parking lot to reach the main door on the rear. It’ll have to be seen as the building is completed what access looks like.
Across Bridge St along Goodhue St the frame, a steel frame, is going up at the long-awaited replacement to the Flynn Tan tannery, 50 new luxury apartments and a half-dozen townhouse units, a companion to the North River Apartments across the way at 28 Goodhue. So far just the frame for the partially underground parking garage is completed. Because of the topography of the site, with Goodhue substantially lower than Boston St on the other side of the plot, nothing is visible from Boston St. The final building will be four stories on the Goodhue side, but just two visible on the Boston St side. Completion anticipated by early 2019, with applications for apartments to be taken starting in mid-2018.
Meantime, further up Goodhue at the intersection with Grove St the old Salem Oil and Grease site decays further. Plans for rebuilding are in stasis.
Watch this blog for regular construction updates.