Let’s not be coy about this. A select few property owners don’t want to fuss with these small buildings in the Newburyport Historic District. Why renovate a small building and perhaps get $600,000 (if you’re lucky) when you can tear it down, and put in a home that will sell for a million plus.
The problem is that this select few will eventually gut our city and when the town starts to descend into a shadow of its former glory; they will take their profits and simply leave town. They will self-righteously bemoan the loss as they quickly pack their bags for greener pastures! The rest of us will be left to suffer the boomtown ‘after taste’ that communities like Gloucester, Marblehead, Plymouth and Salem are now suffering.
The primary reason that our city is increasingly wealthy is our historic district:
“I think anyone who came in today to develop land…would want to adhere to those requirements[historic preservation]. “People come to Newburyport to be attracted by the historicity of the community … we want to continue that.”
-Dick Sullivan, Sr. June 18, 2007, “Renovators had rules to follow when rebuilding”, Newburyport Daily News.
But the banks and the developers want to sacrifice it all for the incredible promise of profits that could be gained with new buildings. (The irony is that their value will be based on their location in the historic district!)
A good example of why even our local businessmen want to sacrifice their reputations and get into the spoils is to look at 28 Green Street. Then Carlson Realty bought the Bradbury-Spaulding House for $180,000 in 1980. When Dr. Naseer-Ghiasuddin bought it in 2009, the price was a blistering $1,200,000. And now it is valued at $1,400,000 plus!(and climbing) Consider the huge profit margin! There are some houses in the South End that sold for $60,000 in 1980 and are now in the million-plus range.
Now it seems that such incredible draws are causing our banks to get behind those who want to tear down our smaller historical houses, and has drawn those famed for championing historic preservation to put their reputations on the chopping block.
Yes, banks like Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank; and yes, our very own architect, Jonathan Woodman!
He wants to tear down The Silas Lunt House on Bromfield Street. A smallish structure that if renovated could fetch $600,000 but if replaced by a new structure could go for well over a million.
And yes, it is all about the money – and to hell to the rest of us or to their reputations!
“Newburyport became a dynamic show place. My architectural practice on Inn Street thrived because we had the benefit of restoring one of the first buildings and we showed that restoration made sense.”
-Viewpoint by Jonathan J. Woodman,