|Old Salem Jail Renovated to Apartments and Restraunt|
Our view: Jail project another positive sign for Salem
State Rep. John Keenan said he was more than happy to accept the invitation to speak at last Thursday's groundbreaking for the renovation of the old Salem Jail.
It meant time away from Beacon Hill, and, the Salem lawmaker noted, "There's not a lot of great news coming out of there" these days.
Indeed, despite a struggling economy, stagnant housing market and budget woes that are hitting home at both the state and local level, there are plenty of good things happening in downtown Salem. And the willingness of developers David Goldman and Dennis Kanin to invest their money in a project — gutting the interior of a 196-year-old, granite-block prison to convert it into apartments and a restaurant — which many thought for a long time was simply not feasible, is proof positive of the faith people have in the city and its historic central business district.
Little wonder Mayor Kim Driscoll, city councilors, members of the Salem Redevelopment Authority and representatives of Historic Salem Inc. were beaming. The preservation of the jail and nearby master's house (the former is attributed to Gridley Bryant, the architect who designed Boston's Old City Hall and Charles Street Jail — now a high-end restaurant and luxury hotel respectively; the latter to famed Salem architect Samuel McIntire) has been a matter of the highest priority for HSI, which at one time had listed the property as Salem's most endangered historic resource.
But ever since the building was declared unfit for human habitation in 1991 and abandoned by the county sheriff, city officials had worked doggedly to find a developer who could bring the property back to life.
New Boston Ventures, which has had experience with condominium projects in Boston's South End, plans to spend some $12 million turning the former jail into a residential complex with a restaurant on the lower level facing Bridge Street.
The restoration of the building, including the Victorian octagonal cupolas that were added in 1884, will provide the city with an eye-catching landmark right where the new bypass road leading from the Veterans Memorial Bridge enters the downtown.Read more.
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