TELL US: How Will the St. Joe's Redevelopment Affect Salem?

Do you agree with the project? Do you disagree with it? What will it do to the area? Tell us here.

Earlier today, that has begun on the old St. Joseph's Church on Lafayette Street courtesy of William Legault.

, the demolition and building process is finally beginning for the developer, The Planning Office for Urban Affairs of the Archdiocese of Boston.

When all is said and done, there will be a new structure that will A retail space and a community meeting area will also be included, according to the Salem News.

There's been lots of talk about this lot over the years — from its historical value to safety issues — and is finally moving, we want to know what you think the implications of this project are.

Do you agree with this project? Do you disagree with it? What do you think the St. Joe's redevelopment will do for Salem, if anything?

Let us know in the comments.

Remember to keep it clean. If you violate our terms of use (check it out here) your comment will be deleted and your account may be suspended. If you have the urge to use profanity, an asterisk "*" will not suffice. Please find another way to make your point so we can keep the forum a place where all are comfortable sharing and conversing about the city.

Temperance Ropple August 31, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Salem is not what it used to be and this will just make it even less than the "witch's city" that brought tourist from every country here. This October will be a BIG let down for people looking for Lori Cabot's shop or The Crystal Moon or Pandora's..All the witches are closing up shop because the rents became unaffordable for them, which was the reason behind the rent increase. Now you have more clothing stores and pet shops than a city this size needs. So with the 51 units, and the additional population, I suppose the rest of the stores will exit and the tourist clamor will end. But that was the goal anyway..wasn't it?
john August 31, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Simple answer to a simple question.It will have a negative impact.
adrienne September 01, 2012 at 12:41 PM
what are they going to do with that very cool, art deco steeple?? it's the only pretty thing that you see when looking towards The Point from downtown!
Roger LaMontagne September 01, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I think that Kim Driscoll really missed the boat on this one. Think what a new Hotel would do for this area and how it would lift taxes as well as bring change to lower Lafayette St and that entire area.....and taxpayer money would not be involved
Lianne Cappuccio September 01, 2012 at 03:43 PM
HORRIFIC! It's starting already, Lafayette Park is becoming a squatters haven. The pedestrians, have an attitude. The travel thru traffic starting from the M'head line straight threw to Peabody, "lets see how fast and far I can get before being forced to stop at one of the many traffic lights." (God forbid a City taxpayer get in the way by trying to exit his/her property). And the parking meters? The only stopping that is going on in Salem is the absurd traffic controlled by a red light! HORRIFIC! - Causing horror, Happy Halloween, and welcome to Salem.
Shava Nerad September 01, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Funny, as a new resident of the Point, I thought Lafayette Park was becoming a squatter's haven because of the delay in the construction. Areas beside abandon properties tend to become havens for vagrants. It's very likely once the property is lively and occupied again -- not boarded up and a scab on the landscape -- the area will perk up some My concern is the integration with the neighborhood and the city as a whole.
Shava Nerad September 01, 2012 at 06:08 PM
For anyone interested in the formal urban planning theory of how an abandoned or neglected property adds to urban crime and discord, here's an article on Wikipedia with some pointers to the dominant theory on how that works: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_theory If you don't show that you respect and maintain your property, people will display disrespectful behavior around it -- tagging and vandalizing it, and spreading a pattern of hooliganism in the surrounding area. This is why neighborhood watches (done sanely) and grassroots efforts, neighborhood policing, and engaged communities do well in keeping healthy communities together better than simple enforcement -- but regulations on simple cosmetics are a bizarre first step on an area that's gotten out of control. Perhaps our city hall should think about this, and enforce litter laws, add some public trash cans, have some covered trash bins, some foot patrols, and so on in the Point, deal more closely with the landlords on cosmetics, and so on. (I've mentioned this at one meeting at city hall, fwiw).
Leese September 01, 2012 at 07:06 PM
I'm deeply disappointed in the affordable housing direction of this project. Salem really needs a unique year-round attraction that bolsters it as a destination, separate from its witchcraft tourism and PEM visitors. A unique year-round attraction could have bolstered the city's tax revenue leading to other positive developments - a hotel, restaurants, shops. Rather than by the city first determining what it wants to be when it grows up, and then courting developers to create what the city wants and needs, its administration bows to the whim of the development market dollar, and makes decisions - like this one - that continue to bolster the things many residents don't like about Salem- the crime, the drunks - the low-brow contingency that seems to linger in downtown, despite its recent improvements. My guess is that the city must be getting federal revenue from the project - as we do from other affordable low-income city projects.
Leese September 01, 2012 at 07:07 PM
In reference to one of the North Salem developments, I actually heard someone ask Mayor Driscoll why the city decided to allow multi-bedroom apartments to be put in rather than a mixed residential townhome/commercial site, which would have better for the immediate neighborhood, would have gained the city more tax revenue, and would have brought in valuable vested owners rather than renters - her response was to explain that the market determines what developers propose - and that because there wasn't much of a market for condos and townhomes and condos at the time, the developer opted for apartments instead. AS well, she also explained that they'd hoped for other development options to materialize, but in a down market, but no other developer materialized offering better alternatives. SO apparently in Salem, the type of development project we end up with, seems to be determined by what the developer wants to build, and as well, the current administration's belief that any development is "good" for the city, because the alternative of waiting for the right development the city needs, doesn't bring enough tax revenue. I would have liked to have seen Salem develop a smusic or performance venue on the site - something small, maybe 2500 -3000 seats. This would have attracted national acts attracting or wanting to play smaller audiences, and could have given us a year-round tax income boost, and potentially lead to other development - hotels, restaurants...
Shava Nerad September 01, 2012 at 09:31 PM
@Leese If you want Salem to remain affordable for you, you need housing that remains affordable for service workers, close to downtown. The "lowbrow" folks you seem to deplore are unemployed, generally. We need them working. Delaying construction projects is a good way to keep people idle on the streets. Have you seen the pictures of Salem, say, in the 30s, during the depression? There were lots of people idle on the street then, also. Bad times -- which may or may not have anything to do with local government (try visiting any city in the world right now!) -- make for less than pristine cityscapes. Perhaps you should abandon your idea that this can be the perfect model city, and start thinking about what we can do to keep it the best it can be. Reasonable expectations lead to more productive outcomes. Tearing down our city management because they are working with what the global economy is handing them is pretty (you should excuse the phrase in this context, but the pun was too tempting) parochial. Not everyone who is poor is lowbrow, and not everyone I see on Derby Street drunk on a summer evening is poor. Some have law degrees and shoes that would pay rent in affordable housing. Salem has several centuries of fine tradition of class snobbery on this point, and I don't expect us to give it all up suddenly -- but we should take it on as a conscious sport, at least. Let's have some fun and see how it works out.
Leese September 02, 2012 at 06:09 PM
@Shava Nerad. I respect your opinions, but disagree on some key points. The assumption you're taking that the people who will utilize this development's affordable housing are going to be service workers or the non-lowbrow unemployed, given the area's crime, high saturation of below-poverty households, low median household income, and low percentage of owner-occupied properties, I feel is a bit presumptuous. You also made a leap in assuming that the lowbrow folks I referenced are unemployed. The lowbrow folks I refer to, don't work or seek work. The unemployed I know, and yes, I know many unemployed people, are too busy trying to get jobs or better their situations through education or career training, networking, starting businesses, volunteering in the community, and/or working multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet until better opportunities come along. You won't find them downtown causing problems. Yes, while it's true that some drunks are employed and make decent salaries, many more aren't. No, I don't exepect Salem to be a perfect model city, but I do expect our administration to be accountable in making its development decisions. And yes, delaying construction may keep some of the idlers, idling, as you suggest, but constructing the wrong kind of development in a struggling neighborhood will maintain it as an ongoing liability long after our current ecomomic crisis has passed.
Leese September 02, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Putting an affordable housing development, which will likely attract less desireable residents in addition to service workers and unemployed, smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood already struggling with a saturation of section-8 housing and crime, doesn't seem like the best decision. The residents of the city and this neighborhood - both the poor and the not-so-poor, will be left with the legacy of this ill-considered development long after the current administration has moved on to bigger and better things. I have no issue with the development of affordable housing - I live across the street from an affordable housing complex - but I do take issue with the administration's decision to locate it at St. Joseph's. I don't belive this is the right location for it, and I do believe the city would have benefited more with a development that creates more jobs, brings in more money, and encourages additional uplifting development in the neighborhood. I don't see this as class snobbery, or parochial thinking in expecting the city to make better decisions - I see this as common sense.


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