Two-family pitched on Rocky Neck

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff photo/Some neighbors are upset about a proposed development of 86-86R Rocky Neck Ave. pictured here. Regina "Ginger" Attaya plans to build a two-family residence in its place.

Regina “Ginger” Attaya is no stranger to Rocky Neck. 

Over the years, the local real estate agent has renovated the Rudder Restaurant, a cottage on Horton Street, and 75 Rocky Neck Ave.

“I have lived in Rocky Neck for over 20 years in several different places. I happen to love Rocky Neck,” Attaya said. 

Now, she has ambitions of a personal development project in one of the oldest operating art colonies in the United States. 

Attaya is seeking a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals to do a partial tear down of 86-86R Rocky Neck Ave. coupled with construction of an addition to the existing structure for the purpose of converting it from a single-family to a two-family residence. 

“All I want to do is make two beautiful units,” she said, explaining that she would like property with water access for herself, nieces and nephews. 

Pleasing the neighbors

This proposed development is a downsize from her initial plan to convert the property into a three-family dwelling unit after she was met with some push back from neighbors. 

“When I met with the neighbors, they didn’t like that, so I said I would do two,” Attaya said. “I have come down one floor.”

The partial teardown would include the studio building, but leave the existing garage as is. 

The property of her proposed development project is located at the end of Rocky Neck Avenue adjacent to the Marine Railways property and consists of two combined parcels with a total square footage of more than12,000 square feet.  

“What it is not going to be is a boarding house,” said attorney Salvatore J. Frontiero, who is representing Attaya in the petition process. 

He added that Attaya is willing to stipulate in the proposal that if she were to make it into boarding that all relief would be revoked. 

Thirty-three neighbors signed a petition in support of Attaya’s proposed development. 

“Regina had a strong passion for Rocky Neck and is constantly seeking ways to maintain the vibrancy and eclectic mixed uses that have existed for many years,” Rocky Neck residents Rob and Sharon Scott wrote to the Zoning Board of Appeals on Feb. 18. 

Rocky Neck resident Angela M. O’Connor added that Attaya’s previous work has added to the neighbors’ real estate value. 

Preserving a place 

A destination location for world reknowned artists such as Fitz Henry Lane and Winslow Homer, Rocky Neck has a specific aesthetic that turns blank canvases into iconic seascapes.  

The preservation of that aesthetic and the history that comes along with it is what oppositionists are fearful of losing with more development.  

“I awake each morning to look through my bedroom window to see the wonderful boats in Gloucester Marine Railways and a beautiful house below which is a wonderful rock garage built into the side of a hill,” abutter and two-time president of Rocky Neck Art Colony John Mullen wrote to Alison Battle of the Zoning Board of Appeal earlier this month. 

“The proposal seeks to blight that scene with a cookie-cutter structure of two huge apartments with multiple bedrooms and baths. What kind of person would want to move into such a place I can only guess, and my guess would not be positive,” he wrote. 

He raised additional concerns that “too-high rents drive out seasonal artists with spaces to be filled with small, live-in, year-round rentals on pilings over the water.” 

Ready to go

If or when Attaya receives the go ahead on her project, she is ready.  

“I have people lined up to get started ASAP,” she explained. “I wanted to get the big stuff done starting in March so that by the time the summer came it wouldn’t be so invasive to the neighbors.”

While the Zoning Board took testimonies at its May 14 public hearing, the board has chosen to continue the hearing until Gov. Charlie Baker’s stay-at-home advisory has been lifted. 

Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com.

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