It is a tough world for a developer who is trying to do what is right. David Hall and New England Development could probably tell long stories of the hoops they have had to do in their developments. Stonehaven was historic preservationists’ dream come true. They listened, they accommodated, they amended their plans so the City could benefit as well as the developer. That is what true capitalism is all about! Goods and services in which both parties benefit. Adam Smith if he came back from the grave would crack out a big smile and shout out, "Well done!"
Now the developer is in a lawsuit with an abutter. The issue is the extended height of the building. Bill Harris, no preservationist slacker himself, has made it clear that accessory structures on top of mill buildings are common. The Atkinson Building is a prime spot. If that isn’t proof enough, drive on Route 495 where it runs very close to the mill buildings in Lawrence. Be careful not to run off the road but take a glance at the buildings especially on their roofs. Lawrence as well as Lowell have been using the historic preservation tax credits on a large scale with spectacular results and yet, there are the structures on top!
My question is simple. Mr. O’Brien has been a long-time resident of this city. Where was the lawsuit when the Sullivan Building was constructed that is far above anything proposed for the State Street property? Where was his sense of outrage at that time? Is there any record of an attempt to stop this outrageous and hurtful structure from being raised? I would like an answer especially in the editorial page of the Paper of Record so all the public can see.
Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank has gazed across at their former building which is the O’Brien Building for decades wondering why it has largely stood empty since the days of HUD. If the city is to beneift, why is the back of the O’Brien Building look like something out of the 1970’s?
I strongly feel this is tenant envy. I am glad the Mayor has supported the actions of the Historical Commission. Personally, I am pleased this lawsuit happened. It puts the important work of the Historical Commission out into the light of public scrutiny and allows them to shine with their importance. We can not allow the NHC to be forgotten and ignored especially in this critical year.