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'Nightmare' on Humphrey Street To Be Replaced

The owner of a residential building with single rooms for rent on Humphrey Street won approval from the ZBA to convert them to apartments. Police officers and firefighters are regularly called to the building.


A nightmare for the police and an embarrassment for the owners of the single room residential building at 242-246 Humphrey Street may soon come to an end.

William Gateman, who owns the mixed-use building, and building manager Julius Sokol won approval Wednesday night from the to convert seven single rooms for rent into four one- and two-bedroom apartments.

The three-story building, which has a hair salon, nail salon and coffee shop on the first floor, is visited daily by the or , Sokol said.

"It is a nightmare for the police and an embarrassment for the owner," he said.

Natalie Gould, who has lived behind the building for 32 years, said, "I have been praying something good would happen with that building."

Her husband said he would miss some of the "sideshows" from the current residents.

Sokol said the building is currently 60 percent vacant because it is too embarrassing to have so many calls from the police and fire departments to handle issues with the residents.

The building, constructed originally in the 1920s as a single room residence, was described by architect Richard Smith as aesthetically attractive. But it needs refurbishing and to be redesigned internally into apartments that would be leased for at least a year, Sokol said.

"That will cut down on the transient population," ZBA board member Harry Pass said.

The ZBA approved the plans for the building with several conditions. The conditions included redesigning the signs for the retail shops to conform to the new town regulations and prohibiting air conditioning units on the front of the building. The board also gave the owners 12 months to complete the construction and stop renting single rooms.

Sokol and Gateman said there would be no financial gain from renting apartments versus renting single rooms. But there would be fewer "headaches," Sokol said.


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pamela boucher September 04, 2012 at 10:59 AM
this would be nice and it is in a good location and near the water. i would say rents for a one bedroom be 1100 a month and two bedroom would be 1300 and more depends on square footage and etc
citizen62 September 04, 2012 at 06:34 PM
If this is to be considered journalism, then a more balanced account of the story is required. Clumping the activities of a collection of residents, who probably are not related to each other, as a "nightmare" dehumanizes the people who live there. For these residents, Swampscott is their community. There may be challenges; support services may be needed. Issues need addressing. Let me be the first to say that I am not exempt from any of that and neither is anyone else -- they just may have inherited or gained more resources to deal with life's challenges. If this is to be considered journalism, and therefore ethical, I'd like to hear from the residents. How will this affect them? Where will they go? What is THEIR SIDE of the story? Don't use rhetoric to push an agenda. Don't reduce people's lives and our integrity as a caring community to a problem like litter.

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