Deal to Lift Demo Delay on Cap'n Jack's Defeated
Historical Commission members say the railroad station renovation proposal failed to address the scale of the Cap'n Jack's Inn project.
Developers Bruce Paradise and Barry Turkanis offered, with conditions, to restore the Swampscott Train Station and contribute $5,000 toward a historical district study in Swampscott if the commission lifted the delay, which runs out Aug. 1.
A town by-law provides for a stay of demolition to the Inn property — which includes a Federal-style 1835 building — for up to nine months while the commission negotiates an agreement with the developers.
The developers have a purchase and sale agreement on the property with the Inn owner.
The developers say economics will not allow them to abandon plans to tear down the three structures and construct a single building with 15 condo units.
They have too much invested in the project and have town approvals in hand, Paradise said.
Preserving the buidlings would be cost prohibitive and returning to the ZBA to seek approval for a different project would be too risky, he said earlier.
The best deal for the town, Paradise said on Wednesday, was for the commission to accept his and his partner's offer to restore a historic railroad station that has sat vacant for almost a half century and would otherwise be lost to neglect or fire.
But Commission member Susan Munafo said that is where she had a problem with the offer — it gets away from the issue at hand, preserving the historical character of Humphrey Street.
A majority of the commission wants to at least preserve building facades or, at a minimum, preserve the facade of the main Inn building.
Furthermore, she said, the conditions upon which the railroad restoration hinged provided no guarantee that the renovation would be done.
The developers' agreement to restore the railroad station was contingent upon a longterm lease with the MBTA for $1 a year.
Commission member Sylvia Belkin said after the meeting that she voted against the proposal because it failed to change a Cap'n Jack's Inn development project that is way out of scale with that part of town.
"We are trying to maintain a town that has character and beauty," she said.
Commission members Jean Reardon and Merry Glosband joined Belkin and Munafo in opposing the developers' proposal.
Commission members Angela Ippolito and Melanie Peterson voted to accept the proposal.