By James Niedzinski
---- — ROCKPORT — Some have called it an “eyesore”; others have termed it a “monstrosity.”
But the Cape Ann Tool Company building soon won’t be called anything of the kind as construction crews prepare for the demolition of one half of the building, and the renovation of the other in an new multi-use retail and residential project.
While Paul Orlando, the town’s building inspector, said Tuesday there is no date slated for the demolition, crews have begun to separate glass and get the building demolition ready.
A chain link fence now blocks off the property, with a for-lease sign on one half of the Granite Street structure, while sporadic graffiti and rust still cover the other.
Marie Larsen, a Haven Avenue resident who has pushed for the buildings demolition for years, said neighbors of the site, including herself, were pleased to hear the sounds of construction crews working.
”Hopefully, the demolition should be coming up; we’ve only been waiting 28 years,” she said. “Everybody was glad something was being done, definitely.”
Michael Rauseo, the owner of the $1.5 million site, said the area is still on track with his single-family housing plan, with the metal structure being taken down but the masonry building being leased.
In an earlier interview with the Times, Rauseo said single-family homes, subdivided in 14 lots, would prove more beneficial rather than townhouses that were originally planned. Rauseo said that, when looking at the townhouse option, they proved too be to big and out of scale with other properties in the area.
”This is a huge win for the town of Rockport,” he said.
The project will also be less dense than previous plans, containing 13 single-family homes divided among 14 lots, rather than 25 townhouses. The plan will also give neighbors a view of the water, Rauseo said, adding that the plan is more zoning-friendly and will not require any new variances.
”Towns like Rockport spend a lot of time and energy to figure out zoning,” he said.
The project is also set to contain 31 parking spots, three boat slips and a water taxi that will transport people from Pigeon Cove to downtown Rockport.
The site was the topic of discussion at a recent Planning Board meeting, with the site is still waiting state Chapter 91 approval. Chapter 91 of Mass. General Law was adopted to protect the public interest of the waterways and ensure they are not unreasonably restricted, all the while securing waterfront access for the owner.
State guidelines require that a public hearing be held by the state Department of Environmental Protection if a project is non-water dependent, such as the single-family homes. Planning Board member Mary Ruth Sole said she believes a hearing is in the works, but there is no date set.
According to a legal notice that appeared earlier in the Times, the state DEP will consider all written comments on the Waterways Regulat application received by April 19.
Planning Board member Cameron Smith said there was some concern about what the public use of the waterfront would be after dark. But Rauseo said Tuesday he does not foresee any problems obtaining the license.
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.