Historic Salem has announced that it has suspended its appeal with the Department of Housing and Urban Development of the St. Joseph's Church federal section 106 process.
HUD is scheduled to release $1.3 million in federal funds for the project, which would demolish the 61-year-old church and construct a $20 million, 51-unit affordable housing complex on the site. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act states that federal funds being used in any project take into account the effect "...on any district, site, building, structure, or object that is included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register."
HSI had recently challenged the legitimacy of the city and state's actions in regards to following the 106 process.
HSI President Sandy Dickson issued the following statement yesterday afternoon:
Historic Salem, Inc. officers have notified the Department of Housing and Urban Development that at this time, the organization is suspending its appeal of the St Joseph's Church 106 process.
The organization has received indications that there is an opportunity to begin a constructive dialogue with all sides that can hopefully lead to a mutually agreed to resolution of this matter.
HSI's mission is to ensure that the historic resources of Salem are preserved for future generations and that new development complements the historic character of the city.
Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs - the developer of the project - issued the following joint statement in response to the announcement from HSI:
"The redevelopment of St. Joseph's has been a priority of mine for years," stated Mayor Kimberley Driscoll. "The project's importance to the City and Point Neighborhood can not be overstated and I am pleased with HSI's plans to curtail its appeal of the 106 process. I look forward to working with HSI and all interested parties to advance this critical project keeping in mind the need for affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization and historic preservation."
"The Planning Office for Urban Affairs was also pleased to learn of HSI's announcement today and entirely agrees with Mayor Driscoll's sentiments", said Lisa Alberghini, President of the Planning Office. "We welcome the opportunity to have a constructive dialogue with HSI regarding our plan to redevelop the property, and look forward to working productively with HSI and other local stakeholders to move this development forward in order to accomplish our shared objectives for the City of Salem and the Point Neighborhood."