The City Council voted to award the sale of the former Central Police Station at 158 Bedford Street to Wethersfield LLC of Chelsea, Massachusetts, for $10,000 at its meeting on August 11, 2020.
Developer Mark Lederman intends to develop the property into 30 market-rate apartments and said he intends to demolish the interior and preserve as much of the historic facade of the building as possible. However, Lederman noted that architectural plans for his proposal are still in development and the end result will depend on the size of units that can fit within the existing exterior.
“What’s really going to determine is if we can physically fit the units within the structure,” Lederman said at the meeting. “And based on the square footage and the window layout as far as egress windows, I think we can do it. We’re going to have to get a little creative.”
“Our goal is to keep the facade of the building and keep it looking as historically and architecturally intact as possible,” added Lederman. “Perhaps We may have to cut a few windows in, maybe in the back, do something for the venting of the new heating systems, but again hopefully that will be small and won’t really affect the facade too much. But our intention is to try and keep the envelope of the building intact.”
Ahead of the meeting, the Preservation Society submitted a letter to the City Council requesting more information on what processes are in place to follow up on the conditions of sale and provisions in the purchase and sale agreement to ensure the city’s best interests are protected.
The Preservation Society noted that similar provisions in past purchase and sale agreements have so far failed to protect historic properties like the Nathaniel B. Borden School and Healy School, where the purchase and sale agreements for those sales are inexplicably missing.
The Preservation Society previously submitted a letter to the City Council Committee on Real Estate ahead of its July 29, 2020, meeting requesting information on the vetting process of bidders as well as details of the partially-signed purchase and sale agreement.
City Tax Title Attorney Matthew Thomas described his vetting process of the bidder, which included conversations with various vendors Lederman has worked with, and noted this level of vetting isn’t generally conducted for other city sales.
Thomas also outlined a variety of conditions of sale and provisions in the purchase and sale agreement to ensure the project is completed, including a project timeline, performance bond, and reverter clause.
Two previous owners of the property were the subjects of separate criminal investigations in Florida, one for an alleged real estate scam, which resulted in the City reclaiming ownership of the property for back taxes.