Governor Baker Signs Bill Supporting Redevelopment of Historic Buildings in Salem

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BOSTON – Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker joined Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, local legislators, city officials and members of the Baker-Polito Administration for a ceremonial bill signing ceremony for legislation authorizing the sale of two historic public facilities to the Salem Redevelopment Authority, which plans to return the buildings to beneficial public use.

“Our Administration has worked hard to identify opportunities to redevelop underutilized state assets through our Open for Business program,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are grateful to the Salem legislative delegation, Mayor Driscoll and the Salem Redevelopment Authority for working together with us to repurpose these beautiful buildings that served the region well for so many years.”

“We are pleased that these historic facilities will soon be serving the people of Salem in a new way,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “The redeveloped buildings will provide new housing and economic development opportunities for downtown Salem.”

The legislation, H. 4635, authorizes the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance to sell the land that contains the Salem Superior Courthouse building and the County Commissioners building to the Salem Redevelopment Authority for $1. The buildings, located at 32 and 34 Federal Street, have been closed since the nearby J. Michael Ruane Judicial Center opened in 2012. Once the transaction is complete the Salem Redevelopment Authority will issue a request for proposals to redevelop the properties, which are located in the heart of downtown Salem. Net proceeds from any future sale of the property will be shared by the Commonwealth and the Salem Redevelopment Authority.

The historic buildings are located in the Federal Street District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Superior Court building dates to 1862, and the Greek Revival-style Commissioners building was built in 1841.

“This legislation is a result of the Baker-Polito Administration’s important partnership with cities and towns which is helping to revive properties that are no longer in use by the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael J. Heffernan. “All over Massachusetts we are working to ensure that the Commonwealth’s capital assets are being put to work in transformative ways.”

“This is an exciting moment for Salem and another milestone in the Baker-Polito Administration’s efforts to repurpose underutilized state property,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “Through this legislation, we can now begin to reimagine and transform these historic courthouses into transit-oriented development that will enrich Salem’s downtown.”

“Salem Superior Court and the County Commissioners building are important historic landmarks,” said Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance Commissioner Carol Gladstone. “We are very pleased that this legislation provides a path forward, and we are proud to be working with the City of Salem on the redevelopment of these properties.”

“I would like to thank our legislators, the members of the Salem Redevelopment Authority, and our historic preservation partners who all worked so diligently to advance this legislation and make this day a reality. I also would like to express my gratitude to Governor Baker for his support of this important measure,” said Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll. “These former courthouses are in the heart of our downtown and, with their proximity to our commuter rail station, are part of our ‘front door.’ With their transfer to the SRA, we can begin the process to preserve and re-use them in a manner that will enliven our downtown, grow our economy, and strengthen our community, all while protecting two of our city’s most historically significant buildings. I look forward to moving forward in partnership with the SRA, community stakeholders, and our historic preservation allies in finding a suitable and successful future life for these critical properties.”

“I am very pleased that we were able to pass this bill to allow for the redevelopment of the Salem Superior Court and County Commissioners buildings,” said Senator Joan B. Lovely, Senate sponsor of the bill. “I look forward to this bill resulting in the preservation and restoration of these important historic landmarks.”

“This legislation will enable these architecturally and historically significant buildings to be preserved while allowing some modern use that serves our vibrant downtown,” said Representative Paul F. Tucker, House sponsor of the bill. “We are grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration working with partners from DCAMM, the Salem Partnership, preservationists, and elected officials to see this through and we are excited to see the next chapter written for these beautiful structures.”

With the Commonwealth as the largest landowner in Massachusetts, Governor Baker in 2015 issued a challenge to state agencies across government to protect natural resources, create economic opportunity, build housing, manage these lands with professionalism and creativity, and generate appropriate revenue from leases and other partnerships. This program is called “Open for Business.”

Since the program’s launch in 2015, there are over 100 projects in 47 municipalities, across 1,000 acres, driving the production of more than 2,200 units of housing on state land. For more information on Open for Business, please click here.