Fate of Nahant Coast Guard housing may lie with Town Meeting; occupancy continues

NAHANT – The fate of the former Coast Guard housing could be decided at Town Meeting this spring, but renters could continue to occupy the property through June 2008.Nahant Town Administrator Mark Cullinan explained the original agreement with Hall Company Inc. did not allow the company to negotiate any lease beyond June 30, 2008, which is when the town wanted to dispose of the property.In January 2005, the town purchased the 3.5-acre lot, located on Castle Road, Gardner Road and Goddard Drive, and the 12 single-family homes on the lot from the U.S. Coast Guard.The town paid $2.1 million for the property and had hoped to sell it almost immediately, but the General Services Administration – the agency that disposes of surplus government property – put a clause in the purchase agreement requiring all profits to be turned over to the government if the property is sold within three years after acquiring it. Because of the clause, the Board of Selectmen agreed it was in the best interest of the town to keep the property for three years and Hall Company Inc. was hired to manage the property.Selectman Michael Manning said the majority of the leases expire in June 2008 and the one-year extension approved by the Board of Selectmen would save the town money.”If the houses were empty for a year the town wouldn’t receive any revenue from them,” he said. “Right now the property is in the black. The town is currently paying off the loan for purchasing the property and it receives slightly more in rental income than the loan payment and management fees cost.”Cullinan said the town is looking at a plan for a mixed development, which could include up to 27 units, which would be a mix of single-family homes and condominiums.Cullinan said the single-family homes and condominium units would be designed to blend in with the neighborhood in terms of design and scale.The comprehensive guidelines also include preserving existing sightlines, sidewalks, landscaping and setbacks.Manning said even if members vote to sell the property at Town Meeting this spring, the planning and permitting stages for the project would be a lengthy process.”In the meantime the property is generating revenue to pay for itself,” he said. “We’re also not paying for upkeep and worrying about vandalism associated with vacant properties.”

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