Permitting holdups delay purchase of state hospital
the pace of construction approvals for a 485 dwelling development
at the former Danvers State Hospital slowed, residential
development giant AvalonBay Communities has delayed its
multimillion dollar purchase of the property.
the original sales agreement, Avalon was to buy the 75 acre
compound from the state in September but local and state
permits for the mixed apartment/condominium complex haven't
come as quickly as expected, prompting the company to delay
the purchase until mid-January, said Keven Flanigan, spokesman
for the state Division of Capital Asset Management.
state agreed to sell the property to Avalon for $18.1 million.
As part of the contract, Avalon is to give another $4.5
million to the state for housing for the mentally ill, $1
million to the Danvers schools, $500 for local historic
preservation and $500,000 to a local affordable housing
plans to pull down most of the buildings on the crown of
Hathorne Hill for its development, including two thirds
of the massive, gothic-style, main Kirkbride building. The
central tower section of the historic building and two adjointing
wings are to be renovated as housing. Condominium and apartment
buildings will be erected around the Kirkbride.
before that happens, the Danvers Planning Board needs to
sign off on the plans. Avalon also needs permits from MassHighway
and the Department of Environmental Protection. All of its
appeals for permits have been held up while the company
waits for the state to finish a review of plans to ease
traffic from the development, which Avalon said were submitted
need to know what direction they want us to head before
we take the next step," Avalon Director of Development
Scott Dale said. "Until (MassHighway) puts us at the
top of their priority list, things are going to move quite
to MassHighway were not returned this week.
its contract with the state, Avalon has the right to delay
the sale until the end of January. After that, the company
would need the state's agreement for another delay.
11-6-04 Arrest Log
Danvers State Hospital: Philip X was arrested at 2:29 a.m.
Log Wednessday two teens were arrested on
a charge of tresspassing at the Danvers State Hospital site.
State and local police were called to the scene
Log Monday Danvers State Hospital: On-site
security detained three trespassers at the closed state
hospital and requested assistance from local police who
gave the two males a ride back to their car, the other is
10-31-04 Arrest Log Sunday
Three teens were arrested after they illegally went onto
the Danvers State Hospital property, which has been closed
since the early 1990s. Eric X 19, Bryan X, 17, and Andrew
X 19, were all arrested and charged with trespassing by
Patrolman Scott Frost. Security officers paid by the state
found the teens on the hospital property around 11 p.m.
Frost said the teens said they had seen the horror movie
Session 9, which was filmed in part at Danvers State, and
wanted to check out the property themselves. Earlier in
the evening, a mother and daughter were tossed off the property
after they were walking up the driveway trying to get into
the hospital, police said.
10-01-04 Construction at state hospital slated for spring
Danvers State Hospital renovation project, slated to begin
this spring, should take around 24 months to complete, developers
told planning board members Tuesday night.
Outlining a proposed renovation and demolition schedule,
Avalon Bay Communities Vice President Scott Dale said that
while the Kirkbride will remain the residential community's
center and focal point, the outlying buildings will retain
some of the site's architectural features as well as replicate
the hospital's brick façade.
"The site work is relatively straight forward,"
Previously, board members had suggested the development
attempt to mirror the site's current exteriors as best as
possible. Suggestions included reusing bricks torn down
during the project's demolition phase as well as continuing
to use the intricate design-work seen on the building today.
Dale said board concerns have been addressed in the development's
The Kirkbride will be the development's formal front door,
Architect Ed Bradford explained to the board, where the
leasing office and primary communal spaces will be housed.
The Kirkbride's tower will also be rebuilt on the historic
Problems come, however, with the Kirkbride's roof which
has collapsed in places and been soaked through by rain
and snow in others. The building's interior will need to
be entirely gutted and the roof completely taken off at
one point during the demolition phase.
"The insides are simply rotting into the floors of
the building," Bradford said. He also had some good
news: "The exterior remains in good shape and is a
viable portion of the building."
In time, the building's exterior will be cleaned, and the
ivy which currently grows and winds its way across and around
the Kirkbride will be removed.
Planning Board member Joseph Younger lobbied for the development
to include some type of museum or historic preservation
center, suggesting that the site's existing water tower,
which will be relocated elsewhere on the property during
renovation, could house such a museum.
While developers did not commit to a site for a museum,
they did suggest one will be built as part of the site's
renovation and development.
The two "midrise" buildings which will be built
closest to the Kirkbride and act as buffer between it and
the apartments and condominiums built at the property's
edges, will mimic the Kirkbride's exteriors as well as act
as a visual attempt to phase into the outlying buildings.
Planning Board member Kristine Cheetham said she was impressed
with the proposed granite-work at the Kirkbride and would
like to see this work replicated on the site's other buildings.
The site's tunnels will also be filled-in during the construction
project. First, any utility pipes in the tunnels will be
abated, then the asbestos will be removed and finally, the
tunnels will be knocked down and filled in to ensure these
underground access routes are destroyed.
Younger also asked what would happen should something of
importance be discovered during the development project.
Already, the Mass Archives have sifted through the site
and suggested that there is nothing worth preserving and
archiving inside the building. The developers, however,
told board members that should an unmarked burial site be
discovered, by state law, the development will stop until
the site is excavated.
The Planning Board will next discuss the development's impact
on traffic and density during a special meeting scheduled
for Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.
9-27-04 Arson suspected in fire at
closed Danvers State Hospital.
team of arson investigators remained at the shuttered Danvers
State Hospital early this morning trying to determine who
or what started a fire in the main building at the dilapidated
before 9 p.m. yestereday a security guard reported smoke
coming from the second story of the Kirkbride Building,
the once majestic, but now boarded-up "castle on the
fire Capt. Douglas Conrad said unless a "ghost with
matches" haunts the grounds, investigators are certain
someone has been inside the building recently. What they
are trying to find out is whether the fire was an accident
or deliberately set.
know someone's been in there," he said "There
had to have been someone in there or there wouldn't have
been a fire."
it wasn't intentional, someone trespassing on the state-owned
property may have carelessly discarded a cigarette or other
burning material, Conrad said.
Danvers State campus, at the junction of routes 1 and 62,
has been without electricity since it closed in the early
1990s, but has long lured visitors looking for a good fright,
or hoping to admire the 19th-century Gothic architecture.
said officials believe the fire started in a pile of old
files and documents in a 10- by 20-foot hallway on the second
floor of the half-mile-long, 313,000-square-foot Kirkbride
Building, the flagship structure of the defunct psychiatric
fire crews took only 5 or 10 minutes to knock down the flames,
and they were contained to that hallway, Conrad said, firefighters
stormed the deteriorated building with caution. Some ceilings
and floors have already caved in and walls have crumbled.
fire must have been smoldering for a while before breaking,
filling the former administrative area with smoke, Conrad
were really careful," he said, adding that firefighters
walked lightly and stuck mainly to perimeter areas to avoid
falling through the floor.
caution paid off, as no one was hurt battling the blaze,
official cause of the fire should be available today, Conrad
said. The amount of damage caused by the fire was immaterial,
he added, because the hospital will soon be torn down and
the grounds converted into a multimillion-dollar housing
developer, AvalonBay, plans to buy the property from the
state next month and is hoping to start demolition by early
could start in fall
detailing the dramatic $75 million renovation of the former
Danvers State Hospital site have been formally submitted
by Avalon Bay Communities, kicking off a process that brings
the development one big step closer to reality.
Bay Spokesman Scott Dale said the project, called Avalon
at Hathorne Hill, will preserve approximately 100,000 square
feet of the Kirkbride Building, including the main administration
building and the two symmetrical wings on either side. That
renovated structure will contain the development's leasing
and administrative offices as well as community and recreational
areas for residents. It will also contain 61 apartment units.
quite an exciting plan," said Dale. "We're very glad to
have brought it to this stage."
total, the extensive plan includes 485 residence units,
60 of which will be for-sale condominiums and 425 of which
will be apartments. All 60 of the condominiums will be age-restricted,
meaning they can only be purchased by buyers who are 55
or older, and six of them will be classified as "affordable."
Of the 425 apartments, approximately 15 percent of them
will be set aside as affordable units.
trying to describe this as an intergenerational, mixed-income
housing community," said Dale. "The objective of the overall
design is to create a campus style setting, with a variation
of architectural styles. We're trying to create some variability,
but have some consistency so it does look like a master-style
Dale said the development will offer a broad range of amenities,
including several fitness options as well as walking trails
and open space.
"There are other areas on the site we could have developed
but chose not to," said Dale. "For example, coming up the
main entry to the top of the hill, there are areas on the
side of the road where you could put buildings. We think
that's an important entry way; we'd prefer to preserve it."
Town Manager Wayne Marquis praised the plan for offering
age-restricted housing, which Danvers currently does not
have, for bringing jobs to town and for preserving open
the end of the day, there are 350 acres (of the state hospital
site) in Danvers. Most of it stays," said Marquis. "Most
of it will remain as it is now: farmland." The plan has
been years in the making, with the process actually beginning
in the early 1980s. After the Legislature approved rezoning,
a citizens advisory committee went to work. The process
continued unexpectedly with AvalonBay taking over last year
from a developer that backed out.
In the meantime, much of the Kirkbride suffered deterioration,
which made it less easy to preserve, and despite protests
from some in town, the plan saves only one-third of the
massive, neo-Gothic structure.
1-22-04 Developer wants permits by the fall
of the Preservation Commission are getting ready to deal
with some 40 requests from Avalon Bay Communities to demolish
buildings at Danvers State Hospital, including two-thirds
of the huge Kirkbride building.
will be a public hearing Wednesday, Jan. 28, in Town Hall,
after the Herald deadline. The six-month demolition delay
clock does not start to tick until this hearing is complete.
the Preservation Commission will probably ask for a continuance
of the hearing, both because of the volume of work and in
order to arrange site visits.
state and the town have been working for some 20 years to
redevelop the property. There are now 75 acres available
for sale and for which AvalonBay has offered $18 million.
The sale will not be complete until the company receives
the local permits to build 526 apartments on top of Hathorn
Hill, in a series of 14 buildings shadowing one-third of
the Kirkbride, which will house administration and community
company will also give $500,00 to an historic trust fund,
$500,00 to an affordable housing trust, $1 million to the
Danvers school fund, and $4.5 million for housing to the
state mental health department.
are significant benefits that will ultimately flow from
it," said Avalon Bay's Scot Dale, who mentioned, too,
the estimated $1 million in taxes.
Commission Chairman Kathryn Morano expects that the hearing
will be continued, because there are four "booklets"
of demolition request materials from the developers. Also,
members want to arrange with the state to take tours of
some of the buildings they have yet to see, she said in
an interview Tuesday. In particular, she mentioned the Gray
Gables, which some so-called urban explorers have said is
in quite good condition, despite its outward appearance
and assurances from the state that it is beyond repair.
commission has already found the buildings "historically
significant." They must now determine if they are "worthy
of preservation," she said.
a building is beyond restoration," she said.
however, seems to be in dispute with a number of buildings
at the site.
Dale of AvalonBay said they would bring an "overlay,"
as requested by the commission members although not required
by the bylaw, to show their new project compared to what
is there now. In addition, they have provided photos of
all sides of the buildings, as required.
Manager Wayne Marquis said he hoped the commission would
agree that at least some of the buildings were OK to demolish.
A continuance once or twice is quite common, he said, but
significant delays would not be in the best interests of
developer expects to have permits in place by the autumn,