hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

May 24, 2012

Editorial: Deadlines needed to compete work at Bradford condo project

In March, with much fanfare, Mayor James Fiorentini announced a plan to tackle neighborhood blight.

At a press conference in front of a derelict and vacant house at 69 5th Ave. in the Acre section of the city, the mayor said he would seek permission to appoint a receiver to take charge of the property, make repairs and bill the landlord.

He said the city was targeting 25 such properties.

Now a resident of the Carrington Estates condominiums behind the former Bradford College campus is asking Fiorentini to add another property to the list: his condo development.

Ed Barrett said the city should put more pressure on the developers to clean up lingering infrastructure problem on the site of the unfinished condo complex.

"The mayor is pointing to a property on 5th Avenue and saying how that is a blight to the city," Barrett told reporter Alex Lippa (see story on page 1). "I think this property is a blight to the city, too, and he should look into a receivership program for this property."

Receivership is an extreme step and unwarranted in this case because the developers have remained in contact with the city to resolve issues — unlike the unresponsive owner of the 5th Avenue property.

But we think Barrett has a point.

The city — and developers — once had high hopes for Carrington Estates, in the Bradford section of the city. Then the real estate market went south, and the original developers essentially walked away from their plans to build 172 condos.

The property was purchased at a foreclosure auction by Manchester, N.H., development firm Brady Sullivan Properties.

The firm completed work on five condos, bringing the total number of completed condos to 75, but no more are in the works.

Brady Sullivan Properties has every right to mothball expansion plans until market conditions improve.

Haverhill's economic development and planning director, William Pillsbury, said the company finds itself in a "difficult situation" but it "did all the work that we asked them to do."

Maybe the city isn't asking enough.

Barrett said that Brady Sullivan Properties wrote a letter to Carrington Estates condo owners last June, saying the company was committed to getting the project back on track and meet its infrastructure obligations.

Brady Sullivan Properties' Haverhill attorney, Michael Migliori, said the unfinished work should be completed within 11 months.

But Barrett says he seeing little movement and wants the city to set deadlines.

"Why can't the city take the infrastructure list and give us days and times of when everything will get done?" he asked. "Are we just supposed to sit here in limbo?"

It seems a reasonable request, and we urge the mayor to work the developers to make sure the work is moving ahead before any real blight sets in.