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A plan to convert a Swampscott mansion into condos is moving forward

The property was built in 1914 and is located at the intersection of Puritan Road and Lincoln House Avenue. (Courtesy File Photo)

SWAMPSCOTT — Plans to redevelop a historic seaside mansion and carriage house on Puritan Road into six condominiums are moving forward after approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The ZBA unanimously approved a six-condominium project at 133 Puritan Road, which would renovate and convert the existing mansion and carriage house into four and one condominiums respectively, and build another single-unit condominium structure where the tennis court is, according to Peter Kane, director of community development.

An addition would be placed on the mansion and carriage house, according to developer Robert Corcoran, the owner of the property.

The property was built in 1914 and is located at the intersection of Puritan Road and Lincoln House Avenue. It includes a large home/mansion, carriage house with residential space inside, tennis court and pool. It abuts the Swampscott Harbor and includes a seawall, town officials said.

Corcoran, the owner of Boberin LLC, had initially proposed a Chapter 40B project, which included razing the site’s existing structures to allow for new construction of three four-story structures, which would have housed 16 condominiums or apartments. Four units would have been set aside as affordable housing.

Corcoran said if he was going to do 16 condominiums, he had no choice — the mansion and carriage house had to come down. But in working with the town and neighbors, who didn’t like his original idea and wanted to see the properties preserved, he chose a new direction.

“I was looking for a win-win situation where the neighbors are happy, the town’s happy and it still works for me,” Corcoran said referring to the project being economically feasible. “I’m eager to get going, but I still have to go through the permitting process.”

Corcoran hopes to get started on the construction in a few months, after obtaining his building permit from the town. He expects the project to be completed in about a year and a half.

Corcoran said he’ll live in the new single condominium by the tennis court.

The three-bedroom condominiums will be 2,500 square feet, but Corcoran said he has to do a market analysis before determining the price ranges for the units.

The existing pool on the property will be demolished and filled in. A new pool will be behind the structure by the tennis court, which will only be available for the third structure, where Corcoran will live, not for the whole condominium complex, Kane said.

Kane said because the new project proposal is for six units, the town’s inclusionary housing bylaw requires the inclusion of an affordable housing element, which would require the developers to provide one unit of affordable housing on-site or on a separate site, or pay a fee toward the town’s affordable housing trust in lieu of doing that.

Instead of providing the one unit of affordable housing, Kane said the developer will pay $151,000 toward the affordable housing trust.

Corcoran was drawn to the property because of its location on the waterfront and because it’s known as an iconic property in town.

He acquired the 1.06 acre property in August 2014 for $1.785 million, according to land records. The property is assessed at $2.992 million.

It is on the Massachusetts Historical Commission property inventory, and was constructed as a summer residence, “Green Gate,” for Simon Vorenberg, a prominent Boston merchant.

In June 1930, “Green Gate,” a large Classical Revival summer home, was the site of a wedding of Simon Vorenberg’s granddaughter, Marion Becker, to Philip Eiseman, according to the Massachusetts Historical Commission.  

The house was later owned by Gerald and Gail Brenner. Jerry Brenner, a legendary music promoter, died in 2014, and the house was sold to Corcoran.

Naomi Dreeben, a member of the Board of Selectmen, said previously the property is part of the town’s history. She said there were summer estates in Swampscott, before the town became a year-round residential community. There were mansions with rolling lawns, like this one and White Court.

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