The first time I visited Newburyport, I spied this ghastly eye-sore and said, “That building has to go!” And as I moved into the city, I knew that the demolition* of that building would be key to rejuvenating that entire waterfront section. Later, as the Lagasse’s and then Karp began buying up land; I stood there hoping they would obtain this eyesore and remove it. But stubbornly it stood there. When my next door neighbor who owned the building passed on, I said to myself; surely it will be bought and removed. Then when the Clipper City Rail Trail was installed, Michael’s Harborside was renovated and Newburyport Development sat on the W.W.O.D. (Waterfront West Overly District); I thought surely it would finally go.
The building is ugly and when it was built originally; it was ugly. To be absolutely fair to Benny and Robert Richard who ran the Richard Brake & Alignment Shop; it was actually a step up. The original area and the wharf were surrounded by mill buildings and coal barges. But we are now looking at an entirely different waterfront. The Mill buildings burned down in 1934 and the warehouses were replaced by the trendy Michael’s. The ghastly barges have been supplanted by lovely powerboats and yachts.
And if Steve Karp’s dream of a yacht-destination development is ever to come true, that building has to be removed. I have long suspected that the original WWOD is dead and Newburyport Development is simply a caretaking enterprise. If so, we as a city, would have no longer anything to fear from the likes of New England Development.
But I could be wrong. Everything and I mean everything is keyed into the fate of this one building. New England Development will send a powerful signal if they purchase it that they are serious about investing in Newburyport.
But I could be right. If this building is allowed to sit, we won’t need tea leaves or psychics to find out what is in the mind of Karp.
* For those who love to be quick to call out, ‘hypocrite!” just remember this building is less than a hundred years old and is located outside the Newburyport Historic District. It was built ugly, and no lipstick or renovation will ever make it more than it was designed to be – a working garage. I may be an historic preservationist but I don’t support restoring trash dumps (figuratively of course) simply because they are ‘old’.