The day of the fire was very emotional for all involved. For me seeing the fear in my tenants eyes was heart wrenching. I’m the type of person who will do all I can to try and help and make people feel better. But anyway, the night of the fire all five families were displaced from their homes due to the water, electric and gas being shut off from the entire building. Besides that the three units that did not suffer fire damage did suffer smoke damage so there was no way they were going to be able to stay in there. Two of the families chose to stay with friends and/or family members. The other three families did not have that option so the Groton Housing Authority housed them at the Residence Inn Marriott in Westford. Those three families stayed there for three nights. Unfortunately they didn’t have any vacancies after that so I had to find other places to put them. At this time the three families who were not burned out are back in their homes. One of the burned out families has been housed and the other family is still being housed by the Groton Housing Authority at an area motel until they secure permanent housing.
At first glance, the statistics for the Groton single Family home market for 2011 seem very similar to those of 2010. Not only was the average price close ($428,242 in 2010 vs. $430,316 in 2011) but the median sale price and the price per square foot were equally close.
The sale of the Lathrop / J. Geils farm on Old Ayer Road to the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts skewed the 2011 statistics a bit, so I removed that outlier from the “sold” list to get a more reliable picture. Looking at the residential market without that transaction shows that the average sale price for 2011 was $415,125, a 4% decline from 2010. At the peak of the last economic bubble in 2005, the average sale price was $585,451.
Groton residents told town officials Tuesday evening that they want to compare “apples to apples” before they vote on a Fall Town Meeting article to buy Sacred Heart Church at 279 Main Street as a site for a new central fire station. With few exceptions, voters speaking in a crowded public hearing on Article 26 asked for the same type of detailed site analysis and cost estimates that engineers and architects working for the Groton Electric Light Department prepared for “Station Avenue,” another potential fire station site.
Officials estimated the cost of constructing a four-bay fire station with a footprint of around 8,200 square foot and a total size of about 16,000 square feet to range from $4.75-5.25 million on the Sacred Heart site and between $5.25-5.8 million on the GELD site. Despite not having a detailed analysis of the Sacred Heart site, officials said they were confident that the estimated price was accurate.
In a surprise announcement, Father Paul Ring and Paul Slaney revealed that Our Lady of Grace Parish, owner of the Sacred Heart church building at 279 Main Street in Groton, is giving the historic building to the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts for use as the chapel on the college’s new campus on Old Ayer Road. Ring is the Our Lady of Grace Parish priest, which includes Groton, and Slaney is a member of the parish finance committee.
The surprise gift truly was a surprise to the college, which has been negotiating to purchase the building since this spring. Asked to comment on the gift, Thomas More COLA President William Fahey wrote in an email this morning that “To clarify: no one has given us Sacred Heart church. I look forward to hearing more about this rumor. I would be happy to be given Sacred Heart church.”
Ring explained that because the church building had been a gift to the Groton Catholic community in 1904, he and the parishoners felt they should continue the tradition of passing the building on as a gift. Built as a chapel by Groton School in 1884, it was given to town residents by the school and moved on rollers to its current location in 1904.
What will Groton’s Town Center look like ten years from now? And will that have an impact a century down the road? Members of Groton’s Design Review Committee (DRC) for the Town Center Overlay District (TCOD) have been officially contemplating that since early July, but individuals’ brainstorming has been going on much longer. The committee is an advisory body to the Planning Board and doesn’t have the power to make changes to plans. According to alternate member Tim Hess, “The TCOD DRC’s charge is to review all applications for projects within the district. The (43d) expedited permitting law requires that this committee evaluate proposals for consistency with the TCOD Design Guidelines, and make recommendations to the Planning Board.” The Planning Board then can either choose to accept the recommendations in whole or in part.
The design review committee is currently reviewing the application for development at 134 Main Street, formerly Kilbridge Antiques and now “Boynton Meadows.” The proposed development includes 18 residential units plus retail and commercial space on the property; it is the same type of use that had been there, but in a package that is both larger and more dense. The committee’s concern, especially in light of the recent fire at the Groton Inn, is the long term impact that new development will have on the Groton’s character in the years to come.
The Commissioners of the Groton Electric Light Department had a neighborly chat with members of Groton’s Center Fire Station Location Committee Wednesday night. As a box of chocolate cookies circulated around the room, the Commissioners and GELD Manager Kevin Kelly floated an interesting idea to the committee: GELD thinks the Groton Fire Department would be a great next-door neighbor. And there would be a bonus to the town and GELD customers: If the town agrees to build the proposed new central fire station next to GELD’s new garage and office complex at the end of Station Avenue, both town departments could save hundreds of thousands of dollars by co-operating on design, permitting, and construction costs.
I want to thank all of the attendees of last night’s Town Meeting for their open-mindedness and their thoughtful deliberation based on the facts that were presented relating to 134 Main Street and its proposed development. I believe that this proposed development is the best alternative for this property and the development of the downtown area as many of you believe demonstrated by your favorable support of article 12 at Town Meeting.
I am writing to support the proposed development at 134 Main Street. I attended the Thursday, April 21st presentation about the proposed development of 134 Main Street. Twenty to thirty townspeople attended and the audience ranged from relative newcomers to Town to lifelong residents. Developer Bob France, who is also a 30-year resident of Groton, headed up the meeting and showed the audience sketches of his proposed concept for the site.
For those of you who follow the public forum of Groton you are probably aware that I have launched a venture to develop the real estate of 134 Main Street in Groton in the last quarter of 2010 (also known as “The Groton Trading Company” or Kilbridge’s Antique Shop which is adjacent to the Groton Inn). There has been some spirited and healthy public hearings which typically get attended by the vocal minority who in general are opposed to change in their back yard. To the credit of all there has been some thoughtful deliberation and mindful consideration of what options lay ahead for the disposition of this property.
(This is the first of a continuing series of real estate tips and snapshots of the Groton market. This snapshot comparing the upward trend of the spring market with 2010 and 2009 figures was prepared by long-time Groton resident and real estate professional Jane R. Allen of MRM Realtors. — Ed.) There are some indications more »