The Danvers Preservation Commission has until Dec. 7 to
rule on a developer's request to demolish 45 buildings on
the Danvers State Hospital grounds, even if it doesn't want
the deadline for the commission to order a six-month delay
on the demolition of any structure at the site it deems
historically significant. But, for a while, commission members
thought they might win a longer reprieve by putting off
a ruling on the request, submitted Oct. 6, by AvalonBay
because Danvers Building Inspector Peter Bryson didn't think
his office had the authority to issue permits for the Danvers
State Hospital, which, like all state property, is beyond
the bounds of most local bylaws.
Bryson's position, Preservation Commission members wondered
if they, similarly didn't have the right, and conversely
the obligation, to rule on the request until the property
on Thursday, Oct. 23, the state sent a letter authorizing
Avalon to act as its agent in requesting demolition of the
buildings. The preservationists normally have 45 days to
rule on a request submitted to the building inspector. The
state's letter set this clock ticking, Town Planner Evan
Morano, chairman of the commission, and other preservationists
have vehemently opposed Avalon's plans to demolish most
of the hospital buildings, including two-thirds of the gothic-style
Kirkbride building. Avalon intends to renovate the rest
for apartments and to erect more than a dozen apartment
buildings around the remainder of the Kirkbride.
April, Avalon signed onto an $18.1 million purchase agreement
with the state Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM),
adopting the building plans of a previous developer that
walked away from the project late last year.
was set to come before the Preservation Commission this
Wednesday, but Commission Chairwoman Kathryn Morano was
unable to attend due to a back injury, and the meeting has
been rescheduled for Nov. 12.
Tuesday, Morano said her committee would continue fighting
for preservation of more of the 129-year-old Kirkbride,
even if she didn't hold out much hope of eventual success.
Avalon is set in its plans and has the backing of the state
and town management, she said. In any event, her commission
can only order a six-month delay of demolition permits,
like this formality that they have to go through that is
totally meaningless to them," Morano said.
doesn't plan to demolish any buildings on the site until
next fall, when it expects to take possession of the hospital
property. Then it will move very quickly to take down the
structures, in part to protect the portion of the Kirkbride
they intend to renovate from another harsh winter, Avalon
Vice President Scott Dale said.
Avalon's plans, the Kirkbride will be the anchor and signature
building for its new apartment complex, Dale said.
Communities requested town permission this week to take
down 45 buildings and structures, including the better part
of the landmark Kirkbride building, at the site of the former
Danvers State Hospital.
April, Avalon signed an $18.1 million agreement to buy the
available 75 acres of the old hospital property. The company's
master plan calls for the construction of 526 apartments,
roughly 100 of which would be placed in a renovated, central
one-third of the Kirkbride building. The rest of the apartments
would be placed in 17 apartment buildings erected around
the Kirkbride atop Hawthorn Hill. Another 100,000 square
feet of commercial buildings would be constructed in the
lowlands portion of the property.
demolition request, dated Oct. 6, was received at Town Hall
Tuesday, Oct. 7.
knock down portions of the Kirkbride and most of the other
buildings - including staff houses, patient dormitories,
chapels and utility buildings - Avalon's application must
pass through the Preservation Commission, the members of
which have this week promised stiff resistance to Avalon's
June, they enjoyed an unusually amicable first, face-to-face
meeting with the developers, even though the developers
indicated they would knock down the better part of what
preservationists generally agree is a very historically
significant building in town.
week the good relations of June seem to have mostly drained
Commission Chairwoman Kathryn Morano said Avalon representatives
disagreed with just about everything she had to tell them
in a follow-up meeting on Sept. 25. Company representatives
strongly argued which buildings the commission had authority
over, she said.
Danvers bylaws, the Preservation Commission can order a
six-month delay on the demolition of any structure built
before 1915 which it deems historically significant. Members
of the commission also argue that all the buildings on the
site of the former state hospital come under their province,
even those built after 1915.
whole site is listed on the National Register of Historic
Places, which means even the structures constructed after
1915 can be ruled historically significant, Morano said.
individual heading up the reconstruction effort, Avalon's
senior director of development, Scott Dale, did not return
a phone call placed Wednesday morning prior to press time.
interviews last week and this week, members of the commission
promised to hold up Archstone's demolition plans as long
Avalon has almost certainly planned for the commission to
use it's power to delay construction by six months, the
commission may be able to drag things out quite a bit longer
than that, Preservation Commission member John Archer said
in an interview this week.
can be delayed more and more, and time is money to these
big corporations," Archer said. "It's not that
the Preservation Commission doesn't want that property developed.
It's going to be, and we know that. It's just how that is
going to happen."
are pursing several options to push for more preservation
at the site. Archer and others continue to speak with senior
officials at the Massachusetts governor's office in a bid
to leverage support. They are also considering a legal challenge
in land court, Archer said.
we get a ruling by the (Massachusetts) Land Court, it would
delay it two years and that's what we want," Archer
said. "Within those two years we hope to gather more
information and get more people involved."
hearing date before the Preservation Commission is not yet
7-1-03 Avalon Bay
Properties will spend some $82 million to redevelop 77 acres
of the Danvers State Hospital property, including the central
portion of the Kirkbride Building and two wings. The remaining
historic Kirkbride complex will be demolished. It will build
526 residential units on top of Hathorne Hill in 14 buildings,
as well as 100,000 square feet of commercial space on the
The company will seek necessary permits through the various
town boards and the state, and expects to pass papers by
next fall. It will then begin construction/demolition, working
in phases. It should take 8 to 10 months to finish the first
buildings, which it will then rent as it continues constructing
more buildings. All the residential construction should
be completed by 2007. The Kirkbride Building will be the
focus, both geographically and architecturally,with new
buildings transitioning away in consistent styles, changing
to more garden-style dwellings further away from the center.The
Kirkbride will prove a common area, and a new building behind
it will include a club house and a fitness center, which
might have a pool and spa. There will be an open space component
acting as a town green. There will also be walking paths,
barbecue picnic areas and possibly tot lots, depending on
Bay Communities solidified its commitment to the redevelopment
of Danvers State Hospital with the signing of a purchase
agreement for the 75 acre property late last week. Avalon
put down a $300,000 deposit towards the $18.1 million purchase
price from the state. The developer has another 30 days
to investigate the hospital grounds and back out before
it must add another $1 million to its deposit.
agreement Avalon signed last week adopts the Archstone development
plan as its own, except for a few minor changes.The new
document changes a clause that, in the Archstone agreement,
called for the developer to use "commercially reasonable
efforts to preserve the historic portions of the Kirkbride
Building " to "shall use commercially reasonable
efforts to preserve, to the extent feasible and safe, the
Kirkbride center "tower building" in addition
to the two wings on either side. The loss of two-thirds
of the 300,000 square foot Kirkbride building has infuriated
local historic preservationists, who've continually spoken
out against the loss of huge portions of the unique building
that is on the National Historic Register.
of state and national property developer AvalonBay Communities
are reportedly on the cusp of signing off on a sales agreement
for the main 75 acre portion of the Danvers State Hospital
property this week. Avalon has said it plans to follow the
development plan drafted by Archstone Properties ,which
calls for the development of 478 apartments on top of Hathorne
Hill, after demolition of the bulkof the massive hospital
buildings that currently tops the hill.
Communities pulled out from the purchase and sales agreement
and is no longer interested in purchasing the hospital.There
are conflicting stories why Archstone walked. Some speculate
that it was too costly for Archstone and was no longer a
financially wise investment. Another reason is that Archtone
simply did not want to wait the years it would take before
being the official owner of the property.
AvalonBay a company once under consideration and had a prior
proposal is again now seeking to purchase the 75 acres ontop
of Hathorne Hill. It's been mentioned that AvalonBay is
picking up right where Archstone left off and only want's
to salvage the main Kirkbride entrance and the two a jointing
wings off of the main entrance.