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Two-year court battle over historic O’Shea mansion is expected to be settled Thursday

The historic O'Shea mansion in Peabody (Owen O'Rourke)

PEABODY — A lengthy court fight between the city and a developer over the historic O’Shea mansion is expected to be settled Thursday.

The battle began in 2016 when the city seized the 123-year-old landmark on Washington Street by eminent domain to prevent its demolition by Empire Design & Development of Gloucester.

Its owner, Michael Corsetti, paid $350,000 for the property in 2015, according to the South Essex Registry of Deeds. He planned to take a wrecking ball to the mansion and build a mix of apartments and retail in keeping with the city’s vision for the downtown.

A year later, he was paid $425,000 to compensate him for the seizure.

The city wants to preserve the mansion, the former site of Bell Tavern, where Minutemen gathered before the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. hoped a developer would spare the mansion, and transform the aging home into offices or a restaurant.   

Corsetti filed suit in Essex Superior Court seeking $1.8 million in damages, alleging the city underpaid him, arguing the assessed value of the property was closer to $1 million. A second lawsuit, in U.S. District Court, alleged the city’s efforts to undermine Corsetti’s purchase of the mansion violated his civil rights.

At the time, Bettencourt said he believed the city had a strong case. But earlier this year, a federal judge refused the city’s request to dismiss the case.

Since then, Corsetti’s attorney, Peter E. Flynn of Saugus, has been negotiating with the city for a resolution.

The City Council is expected to consider the settlement amount in executive session, out of public view. But any cash payment will be voted on in a public session in the council chambers.

Bettencourt and Flynn declined comment.

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