Downtown developer buys
14 Central Avenue building in Lynn

January 10, 2011
By Thor Jourgensen/The Daily Item

A Somerville developer has bought the former school administration building on Central Avenue and hopes to have residential tenants, a restaurant and other businesses in the building by year’s end.

“We would like to inject some excitement into downtown,” said RCG Principal Alex Steinbergh.

RCG paid $485,000 for the building, less than one third of its assessed value, but an amount roughly equivalent to the minimum bid price listed at an auction for the property last November.

The six-story 47,000-square-foot office building has been empty for nearly seven years ago after the School Department moved its office to 90 Commercial St.

Steinbergh said RCG representative Matt Picarsic will spearhead the developer’s plan to renovate 14 Central’s upper floors into rental apartments and provide space for offices and businesses in lower floors.

Steinbergh said the current condominium market in Lynn “is not very good” and said he hopes the building will feature a restaurant.
“It’s market driven, but you can’t force it,” he said.

City Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Director James Cowdell said RCG’s purchase is exciting news for the city’s ongoing downtown development efforts.

The former school administration building at 14 Central Ave. in Lynn may soon have new tenants. (Item Photo / Owen O'Rourke)

Cowdell said EDIC will encourage and support the developer’s efforts to negotiate purchases of vacant land on Andrew Street and the Anthony’s Hawthorne restaurant site.

Both lots share common streets with 14 Central and, Cowdell said, could provide parking for 14 Central tenants.

Cowdell said the city has been unsuccessful in convincing the Athanas family to help draft a plan to develop the Anthony’s site.

Opened in 1937 as the flagship restaurant among four restaurants founded by family patriarch Anthony Athanas, Anthony’s closed in March 2003. The 6,000 square-foot restaurant borders a 32,000 square-foot parking lot owned by the Athanas family.

If negotiations between RCG and the family do not result in a development plan by February, Cowdell said EDIC will draft a plan and present it to the City Council as the first step toward a city eminent domain taking.

“I’m hoping RCG comes to an agreement with the Athanases and they acquire that land. Alex Steinbergh is negotiating with the Hawthorne folks. EDIC’s position is we won’t let the Hawthorne stay in its current state,” Cowdell said.

Steinbergh said RCG has had a preliminary conversation with an Athanas family representative and said “it is premature” to say if RCG will expand the 14 Central purchase to include the Hawthorne and Andrew Street land.

RCG developed the Boston Machine Loft building on Willow Street, the Firehouse residences on Franklin Street and Sloan Lofts on Essex Street. Steinbergh said the firm is not as large as local developers The Hall Company and Mayo Group, but said, “We hope to help move Lynn along.”

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