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Temple Israel Development Plan Morphs

The developer of the Temple Israel parcel cuts units by 5 and the price they will pay for the land. There will be a rabbit warren of 14 houses all with 10-foot frontages.

I don’t know about how the rest of Swampscott’s citizens feel about the proposed use of the former Temple Israel, but from what I can tell it has moved from really bad to just about as bad.

The proposal given at this past Swampscott Town Meeting stunned many members. The ever so secret details of the plan were exposed in a very matter-of-fact manner by Selectman Jill Sullivan. Bucolic pictures of single-family homes, which were proposed as examples of the new site plan by the developer Charing Crossing Realty Trust d/b/a Atlantic Crossing, were shown on screen. This was a misrepresentation of the footprint of the then proposed 19 single-family homes to be squeezed into the parcel. The proposal was that there would be a 10-foot frontage for each residence, which would be two bedrooms in size. Take out your measuring tape and measure out 10 feet on your front sidewalk. Then measure the front of your house. You can see why I am incredulous that you can build decent houses with that small a frontage.

Recently they changed their proposal, along with their name. They’ve eliminated five houses from the original plan.  There are now proposing 14 single-family houses to be built; yet they will still maintain 10 feet frontages. This is supposed to make the development match more closely the surrounding neighborhood. The square feet that the homes will sit on will now be 6, 500 square feet, (Swampscott Reporter, 8/2/12, p. A9).

If you haven’t been to that side of town lately, take a drive by that parcel and around a few of the blocks there. Do any of these neighboring houses have anything close to a 10ft frontage? I am guessing wildly, but the average seems more like 40 feet of frontage. To match the existing residences at most four (4) houses could be built there.  The property values of the adjacent properties can only decrease with 14 small, cookie-cutter, buildings situated in a small percentage of an acre per home…with 10 feet frontage, built on the parcel.

When making the presentation of the original 19 house plan at the May 2012 Town Meeting, Selectman Jill Sullivan proposed that a variance be provided to the current Planned Development District, (PDD), description of a multi-unit condominium development. I believe it could have been up to 40 units. This Planning District proposal was approved when no bids were placed on the property on the first RFP.

Now, the newly named “Atlantic Crossing” development company is going to take their horse and pony show on the road.  They’re convinced that the problem at the May Town Meeting is that was the first time the majority of the town had seen the proposal, according to the Swampscott Reporter. (8/2, p 1ff). If you are at one of these presentations, I urge you to insist on seeing mock-ups to scale of the buildings with the 10ft frontage, not the houses with extensive front porches, which were shown to those at the May Town Meeting.

With these changes the price paid for the parcel is expected to decrease from $2.2M to $1.85M. Why would this be so? What legal documents if any were signed by Charing Cross Realty d/b/a Atlantic Crossing when the selectmen approved the sale? Were there conditions placed on the sale price concerning the number of dwellings permitted or whether the variances in the PDD were passed? Can this sale be considered legal since it did not comply with the existing PDD?

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Steve Iannaccone August 07, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I agree 100%. People need to have an accurate visual picture. However, fair warning, the town may still vote for it. I think the most problematic complaint was the old number of 19 and not having a accurate visual to see how the concept actually fits together.
Steve Iannaccone August 07, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Amy: point taken. Jimmy: I am not sure where you get $2.4M. The old offer was $2.2M; with 14 houses the offered price is reduced to $1.85M for the parcel. Of course there are costs inherent in the development. The profit is based on what price and how many homes they can sell. With only 14 houses, the profits are lowered and that is "passed on to the town" by a lower offer. The question that arises now is whether this is the economic climate to sell this parcel. If the town waits even one year, the land may be worth significantly more.
Lexi August 08, 2012 at 10:48 AM
All good points Steve but you must also acknowledge that if the town waits another year the property could be worth less. There is no guarantee it will be worth more, if there was we would all be wealthy by being able to read the future.
pamela boucher August 09, 2012 at 11:04 AM
i use to live right across the street so the developer wants to build some houses on the property. let him ok It will look nicer and not an eyesore ok plus swampscott will be getting extra revenue from the propety taxes.
Brendan Gupta July 01, 2013 at 11:59 AM
The problem here is that the 14 homes are being presented as being worth upwards of $500,000 and nobody in their right mind would buy a small two bedroom "cookie-cutter" home with a 10 foot frontage for that price. So we've wasted 6+ years of getting no tax revenue at all. We need to do what we should have done at the outset: the town should foot the bill to destroy the temple building and sell three or four plots of land. Sure the tax revenue will be less than the 14 homes but the projected tax revenue from the 14 homes is unobtainable. We can wait to see what happens with the market, etc, etc or we can keep the parcel in line with the rest of the area, keep it beautiful for years to come and get some added tax revenue while we're at it. I just can't believe anyone would buy one of those houses for more than $200,000.

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