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July 31, 2013

Manchester's Windover rethinks Beverly demolitions

BEVERLY — A major development firm based in the town of Manchester says it is reconsidering the demolition of two historic buildings near the Beverly depot after the state warned that their destruction could cost the company $1.1 million in tax credits on another project.

In a letter to the Massachusetts Historical Commission, Windover Development President Lee Dellicker said the company is “revisiting the feasibility of retaining and rehabilitating” the former Hotel Trafton on Park Street and the former Cushing Carriage Building on Rantoul Street.

Windover’s change of heart came after the commission’s executive director, Brona Simon, wrote a letter in February warning that the Beverly Depot-Odell Park Historic District would no longer be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places if the buildings are demolished.

“It is the opinion of the (Massachusetts Historical Commission) that both the Hotel Trafton and the Cushing Carriage House are significant contributing elements of the district,” Simon wrote.

Windover has nominated the district for inclusion in the national register in order to be eligible for $1.1 million in historic rehabilitation tax credits for its renovation of another building, the former J.P. Friend & Company Box Factory on Pleasant Street.

But Windover, which has built the new BankGloucester on Main Street in that city, the Depot Square condos in Beverly, and many buildings at Endicott and Montserrat colleges, was seeking the historic designation at the same time it was planning to demolish the two other buildings, drawing the ire of local preservationists.

In an interview, Dellicker said he appreciated the concerns of the state commission and others who want to save the buildings, in particular the former Hotel Trafton.

“It is in tough shape, and it may not be economically feasible to save,” he said. “But we will look at every possible way that it might be saved and incorporated into a project.”

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