Construction in Blubber Hollow. April Update

Now that weather has improved a modicum (April was too damn chilly for April) construction in Blubber Hollow has stepped up a notch. The most visible progress is the construction of the apartment building at 70-92 Boston St, the former FlynnTan tannery (or addressed from behind, 13-27 Goodhue). 000_0307Framing has proceeded apace and is nearly topped off. On the Boston St side the foundations for the townhouse units is completed, with framing on them to commence as soon as the main building framing is done.

Across Bridge Street the siding of the Senior Center (ahem, Community Life Center) is half up. Inside, wallboard installation is reaching its end game, with the last stage of interior construction, installation of fixtures (lamps, sinks, moldings, doors and the like) to follow. An opening in August is planned, just three months away.

And there’s a new entrant in the Blubber Hollow construction derby: the demolition of the former Junior’s Auto Body and adjacent motorcycle shop at 11 Goodhue St. Excavators spent the last two weeks tearing it apart until nothing was left. They even took away the huge truck tires left behind.


Hole in ground where Auto Body Shop once stood

Here is Junior’s in somewhat better days. It was never a neighborhood highlight of elegance and cleanliness.Junior's Auto Body 11 Goodhue

Further up Goodhue St, where it fuses with Grove St, mitigation of contaminated soil at the derelict Salem Oil and Grease factory is ongoing.


What’s left of Salem Oil & Grease

Once all “hot spots” are found and excised perhaps demolition of the derelict buildings can begin.

Further east in Blubber Hollow on Flint St, following the annals of two small steps forward and one giant step back, the developer of the former Salem Suede has backed out. The second such developer to do so.

72 Flint St Salem Suede

Former Salem Suede site today

For much the same reasons as the previous developer stepped out – the current conception of Riverview Place Apartments just does not make economic sense. Not until the project is allowed to scale to mitigate the expenses of clearing a heavily contaminated brownfields site.

For Salem Suede this setback means first signing on a new developer, then reconfiguring, resubmitting, reapproving and refinancing the site plans. Looking at another 2-3 years before construction can start, at best. Salem Oil and Grease itself has had developers back out. Same reasons.

This delay recalls wildly overly optimistic projections for Blubber Hollow redevelopment in a New Years Day 2017 feature in the Salem NewsGrowth Spurt: Get ready for lots of construction in Salem this year. In Blubber Hollow “Developments that will either begin or end construction – or both – this year include the Salem Suede, Salem Oil and Grease, and Flynntan sites and the Gateway Center.” In order, nope, nope, somewhat, and nope. “Along Bridge Street, a whole neighborhood will be created out of empty space, blighted fields from the city’s industrial past.” A big fat nope.

Not that redevelopment fared better elsewhere in Salem. On upper Washington St “construction of its five-story Hampton Inn” – nope. “At the other end of Washington Street, a six-story apartment project for the old district court site” – nope. “Other projects … include F.W. Webb’s expansion on Bridge Street, the eight proposed residential units targeting the old Ward 2 Social Club site on Collins Cove, and a massive cineplex project on Highland Avenue.” In order, nope, nope and thank the stars in the heavens above nope.

More than a year later, the Building Salem web site has little to update. Still won’t stop your local NIMBY from harping about overconstruction in Salem.



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