GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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October 10, 2012

'Village' owner buys Magnolia subdivision site

The ownership group that built the Village at West Gloucester subdivision has now bought the defunct, 50-acre Magnolia Reach property off Magnolia Avenue.

Magnolia Reach Capital LLC acquired the 50-acre property from U.S. Bank for $2.45 million in an Aug. 28 auction, City Assessor Bethann Godinho confirmed Tuesday. And the newly formed limited liability company, a division of Restoration Capital LLC, which owns the Village, is planning to pick up where the former developer Abbott Magnolia LLC left off – and fix the problems that Abbott left behind.

The purchase falls into a collection of developments that have re-started over the last year, from the Lupine Lane project in Riverdale to a four-lot development on Bass Avenue.

Abbott Magnolia, a division of Boston based Abbott Homes, started work on the site after it bought it in 2007 for just shy of $3 million. But any work on the site — which only carved out a half-finished cut into the Magnolia landscape — ceased around two years ago.

Last year, the company declared bankruptcy, saying it owed more than $10 million to S/A Group Properties, Health Care Senior Housing Properties, the city, and numerous other debts. U.S. Bank foreclosed on the site in April.

Abbott Magnolia left a mess behind at the Magnolia Reach site between Carter Hill Road and Ryan Road, said Lawrence Smith, managing director of Restoration Capital. The roadway isn’t compliant with the permit, nor is the septic system, he said, and the water retention system isn’t in place correctly.

“The former developer started running out of money and cut corners,” Smith said.

“It’s an absolute mess,” he added, “(but) that’s what we do, we fix messes. We fix nonconforming sites where the developer didn’t have the financial wherewithal to complete the site.”

Smith said his company’s plan isn’t to change Abbott’s plan, which called for 21 duplexes. He said he’ll keep the promises Abbott couldn’t and work to bring the site back into compliance with its permits. Smith said he’s still working with the city on that, and expects to be doing so for a few months.

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