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Blighted properties near waterfront placed under city control

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  September 10, 2013 06:30 PM

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Quincy officials are finally hoping to clean up two blighted properties in Adams Shore after accepting a donation of the land in lieu of over $145,000 in back taxes.

Councilors voted in early September to take over the property, which has sat in abandonment for the past 10 years and is overgrown with an invasive species of tall grass.

“The property has been privately owned for decades, and the previous owner thought he was going to develop this parcel,” said Ward 1 Councilor Margaret Laforest. “He proposed back in the '80s this high rise apartment building. Never going to happen in the flood plain. And today with permit requirements, never could happen.”

Although the developer, Albert Calcagno, was able to develop surrounding parcels, the waterfront development continued to sit in abandonment. Once he died, the land was transferred over to an estate, which eventually stopped paying taxes on the lot.

Inheritors of the estate came to the council with a plan to donate the 95,500 square feet of land, valued at $514,000, to the city.

For Laforest, the deal was a fair one.

“Land court is going to give you the land. They won’t give you the back taxes,” she said. “That’s standard procedure. They will give you the land in lieu of the money. It’s the same end game.”

Furthermore, Laforest said the donation would allow the city to save money and staff time they would otherwise have to spend processing a foreclosure through Land Court.

“Land court is not a quick process,” Laforest said, noting that another foreclosure case in her ward has taken four years and still isn’t resolved. “Do I have four years to give Adams Shore to let this blight continue?”

Councilors voted in the majority to accept the land, with Councilor Brian McNamee voting against the proposal. According to Laforest, McNamee wanted to see the money returned to the city, and not the land.

The property title will have to be clear of any encumbrance before the land can be donated to the city. City officials are waiting on that final approval before the transaction is finalized.

Though the process is well underway, Laforest said options are still open as to what the land might become.

An option to turn the spot into affordable housing fell through once engineers reviewed the flooding problems on the property. Flood insurance, costing upwards of $4,000 a year, would also make any affordable housing project ill advised.

Laforest now hopes to use Community Preservation Committee funding to preserve the land as open space, and possibly use it for storm water retention.

“But I have not yet reviewed with the neighbors officially,” Laforest said.

Further options will be reviewed once the property is officially in the hands of the city, Laforest said.

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