Chelsea's Downtown Development Authority is still working on plans for its Longworth site, and some residents are relieved that the delay comes with a stay of demolition for the three buildings involved.
Demolition has been postponed until April for three buildings on the north side of the city, commonly known as the Livery, the Mack building, and the Daniels addition. DDA president Mike Jackson says the group will be hiring an architect to create a plan to be presented to the public.
The DDA-owned site has potential even though it's been empty for more than 20 years; a number of developers have looked at it and suggested a range of ideas, many of which included first-floor commercial with residential above. In the end they walked away because of the financial cost, Jackson says.
Also complicating things is the odd configuration of the property and the unanticipated historical aspect. "It's a gateway into Chelsea," he says. "It's been this structure that doesn't look very good coming in from the north side. We wanted to make something that looked nice."
Jan Bernath, a member of the Chelsea Connection team, which has been working to preserve the site, would like to see the buildings adaptively reused. The livery is one of the few remaining in the state, built in 1906 or thereabouts. The Mack building, to the west, served as a place for car production and other industrial uses, and the Daniels addition, to the front of the property, was built in 1947 as a car showroom and is the only remaining Art Moderne building in town.
Bernath points out that with the livery, the Mack building, and the Daniels addition, there is a history of transportation in Chelsea. "It's really where Chelsea started," she says.
Although there may be odds as to preserving versus demolishing the site, Jackson says a solution will be reached: "Something good will happen out of there," he says. "Obviously, not everyone is going to be happy. We're going to come up with a good plan, and who knows what might happen between now and then."
Source: Mike Jackson, president of the Chelsea Downtown Development Authority; Jan Bernath, Chelsea Connection
Writer: Kristin Lukowski