NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 29, 2012

Sidewalk Cafe to be razed

Site had stymied redevelopment plans

SALISBURY — The building that was an obstacle to revitalization plans for Salisbury Beach Center could be coming down soon.

The crumbling remains of the former Sidewalk Cafe at 25 Oceanfront South could be demolished in the next two weeks, according to Salisbury Town Manager Neil Harrington.

Property owner Mark Finneral of Tewksbury recently took out a demolition permit to raze the building that has been an eyesore for more than a decade.

Harrington said the town in December issued an "unsafe structure order," giving Finneral a deadline by which to make repairs or tear down the structure.

"He made some cosmetic improvements to keep kids out of it," Harrington said. "But he would have had to spend a lot more to really fix it up."

Since taking out the demolition permit, Harrington said, Finneral is doing necessary testing to determine if the building contains lead or asbestos. If found, both materials must be disposed of in an approved manner during demolition. Once the utilities are removed, the building can then be taken down.

The former Sidewalk Cafe had been a point of impasse between Thompson Design Group, the company hoping to redevelop Salisbury Beach Center, and two developers who had optioned the site from Finneral to develop it themselves.

In the summer of 2010, Robb Osinski and Jay Gallagher were considered one of three groups of "holdouts" refusing to negotiate in good faith with the Thompson Design Group.

Others holdouts were a small group of condo owners and the Salisbury Beach Associates, a property-owning entity that controls small strips of land throughout the beach center. The associates' property includes land that once held trolley and railroad tracks, along Oceanfront South and a small piece of Central Avenue near Broadway.

The situation prevented the Thompson Design Group from controlling all the land in the target redevelopment area, which had been delineated in 2007 primarily as Broadway, Oceanfront North, Oceanfront South and parts of Driftway.

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