-By Seth Daniel
One house at a time, city and state officials hope that they can dig out abandoned and foreclosed properties in Revere and the rest of the Commonwealth.
Using Revere as a model, State Attorney General Martha Coakley has teamed up with Mayor Tom Ambrosino, Chelsea Restoration and the Mass Bankers Association to work out a receivership program to rehabilitate homes that are abandoned and unwanted.
Last week, a cadre of officials converged on a home at 60-62 Agawam St. – a home that had become abandoned when the owner walked away and the bank failed to take responsibility for the loan or the upkeep.
It was literally a property in limbo and it was falling apart fast and becoming a blight on the close-knit neighborhood near Wonderland Station.
Speaking from the kitchen of the fully rehabilitated property, Coakley said that such programs could be key to the ultimate turnaround of the entire state economy.
“This is a good example of what we’re able to do with some of these foreclosed, abandoned properties,” said Coakley. “Digging these houses out, literally doing it one by one, is immensely labor intensive. However, we know that if we don’t do it these properties will remain off the tax rolls and they will bring the property values in the neighborhood down. They can become havens for copper pipe stripping and hangouts for neighborhood kids…I am convinced this is going to be key to the economic turnaround of the Commonwealth if we can do this and do it quickly.”
The property at Agawam Street is the second undertaking for the City of Revere and Chelsea Restoration, which is run by Revere native Helen Zucco.
In the first case, the two parties partnered with Danversbank to rehab 60 Warren St. in Ward 4. It was gutted, rehabilitated and then sold as affordable housing last year.
Now, with the help of Coakley and her office, the partnership – once more with Danversbank – has done the same with Agawam Street. It will also be sold off as affordable housing to a qualifying purchaser.
Chelsea Restoration was able to complete the project through a federal Stimulus grant from Coakley’s office in the amount of $52,756, as well as the Danversbank construction loan of $113,599 (at 6.5 percent interest).
“Many things could have happened here,” said Zucco. “It could have become a drug haven or an opportunity for prostitution. It could have clearly become a fire hazard for the neighborhood.”
Ambrosino said they will move right along with the program in Revere.
“This is our second one and we’re continuing the effort as we speak,” he said. “We’re working on one on Thorndike Street right now and hopefully that will move forward soon. These take about six months to do each.”
Kevin Connolly of the Mass Bankers Association said that he applauded Danversbank for stepping up and partnering in the effort.
“We think this is a very positive outcome and look forward to working with the attorney general on more of these,” he said.
Additionally, Attorney Frank Russell has served as the partnerships’ legal representation.