Swampscott neighbors will have say on Jan. 5

December 26, 2016

ITEM FILE PHOTO
The former middle school on Greenwood Avenue.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT — Residents will soon have a chance to weigh in on two proposals, one for luxury apartments, the other for single family homes at the site of the former middle school on Greenwood Avenue.

Peter Kane, director of community development, will present the proposals the town received from Groom Construction and Charing Cross Realty Trust at a community forum Thursday, Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. in the Swampscott High School cafeteria.

“The town’s been focused on reuse of its vacant buildings over the past few years,” Kane said in a statement. “We’re now moving forward to reinvigorate those properties like the Machon School on Burpee Road, which will soon become affordable senior housing. Swampscott has spent a number of years discussing and pondering what to do with the various shuttered properties, but now’s the action phase to make those ideas reality.”

Groom Construction, a Salem-based company, submitted a proposal for 28 luxury apartments or condominiums and three garage outbuildings on the site.

The other developer, Charing Cross Realty Trust, based in Peabody, has proposed constructing 11 single-family homes on the site.

Groom originally won approval for a different condominium project on the site five years ago, and is in the midst of pending litigation with the town, which has to be resolved before the town is able to proceed with the sale of the property. The lawsuit stemmed from the initial zoning change approved at Town Meeting, which allowed for a multi-family unit on the parcel. That was overturned by Massachusetts Land Court after neighbors filed suit in 2014, and zoning was reverted back to single-family housing.

The zoning change approved at Town Meeting last May allows for the construction of a single structure with 28 units on the site. Potential developers had to adhere to an affordable housing component. The zoning change requires that at least 15 percent of the units be affordable, or a builder could contribute to an affordable housing trust fund, which would be used to pay for affordable housing elsewhere in town.

Town officials said respondents to the RFP were encouraged to develop proposals that serve a residential purpose, adhere to a scale appropriate for the site, are consistent with the neighborhood characteristics and that comply with the zoning.

The Review Committee, made up of Gino Cresta, the acting town administrator, Kane, and two selectmen, have been analyzing the proposals and meeting with the respondents. The committee will later make its recommendation to the Board of Selectmen, who are tentatively set to vote on one of the two proposals in late January or early February.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley