Briefcase Departments


DevelopSpringfield Acquires Historic Property
SPRINGFIELD — DevelopSpringfield recently acquired a deteriorating historic property at 83 Maple St. in Springfield for rehabilitation in keeping with its historic significance.  A property to the rear at 234 Union St. was also acquired and will be developed as a part of the project. The Greek revival-style home was originally built in 1841 for Solymon Merrick, the inventor of the monkey wrench. It has been considered an important component of a group of 19th-century buildings located at the corner of Union and Maple streets. Later it was owned by Ansel Phelps, the fourth mayor of Springfield, and was commonly known as the Ansel Phelps House. The property has been included on the Springfield Preservation Trust list of endangered historic properties of Springfield, which highlights 10 threatened properties of architectural and historical significance. The house has fallen into disrepair and will require significant stabilization in preparation for restoration and reuse. The goal of DevelopSpringfield with this project is to eliminate a blight on the neighborhood while saving an important historic property and to ensure its rehabilitation to an appropriate use. “Our first priority is to stabilize the exterior of the building by repairing or replacing windows, porches, and pillars and taking other steps to prevent further deterioration, and to improve the physical appearance of the property,” said Jay Minkarah, president and CEO of DevelopSpringfield. The organization plans to work closely with the Springfield Preservation Trust, the Historic District Commission, and the city’s Planning and Economic Development Department regarding redevelopment of the site to ensure that restoration and reuse plans are consistent with city and neighborhood goals and compatible with surrounding uses. The Springfield Preservation Trust owns the buildings at 77 Maple St., offering an opportunity for collaboration. “This is a property of great importance historically, and it is located on a major gateway to downtown. It cannot be lost to disrepair,” Minkarah added. “Once restored, however, it will become a tremendous asset once again for our city.”

Labor Report Mixed Across Commonwealth
BOSTON — The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development recently reported that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for March were down in eight areas, up in seven areas, and unchanged in seven areas over the month.  Over the year, the rates were down in 14 areas, up in five areas, and unchanged in three areas. Statewide, the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged over the month at 6.8% and 11,300 jobs were added in March. Over the year, the statewide unadjusted rate edged down by 0.1% from the 6.9% rate posted for March 2012, and Massachusetts added 32,400 jobs. In March 2013, over-the-month job gains occurred in 11 of the 12 areas, the largest of which were in the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Worcester, Barnstable, Springfield, and Framingham areas. The Leominster-Fitchburg-Gardner was the only area to record a job loss. Over the year, eight of the 12 areas added jobs, with the largest-percentage gains in the Barnstable, Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, and Peabody areas. The seasonally adjusted statewide March unemployment rate, released on April 18, was 6.4%, down 0.1% over the month and down 0.2% from the 6.6% rate recorded in March 2012. The statewide seasonally adjusted jobs estimate showed a 5,500 job loss in March following a loss of 800 jobs in February. Unadjusted unemployment rates and job estimates for the labor-market areas reflect seasonal fluctuations and therefore may show different levels and trends than the statewide seasonally adjusted estimates.

Home Sales Down, Prices Up in March
BOSTON — Massachusetts home sales slowed in March while prices kept going up, prompted by a shortage of properties on the market. Statewide, 3,100 single-family homes were bought in March, a 3.6% decline compared with the same time in 2012, according to Warren Group, a Boston company that tracks real estate. For the first three months of the year, sales fell 2.1% to 7,849, compared with the first quarter last year. Condominium sales also dropped off in March, by 2% to 1,211. Sales for the first quarter declined about 1%, compared with the first three months of 2012. At the same time, buyers were having to pay more. The median price for a single-family house rose to $285,000 in March, 8% higher than during that month last year. During the first quarter, the median value of a home swelled by 10.6% to $282,500, compared with the first three months of 2012, according to the Warren Group. Condo prices rose less dramatically to $261,000 in March, by 1.5%. For the first three months of 2013, the median price of a condo hit $250,000, a 1.6% increase from the year-earlier period. The data suggest that there are not enough homes for sale to meet the demand of buyers, who are motivated by low interest rates, rising prices, and an improving economy. The inventory of single-family homes eroded by 29.8% in March, compared with March 2012, marking the 12th consecutive month of decreases, according to the Massachusetts Assoc. of Realtors. Inventory for condos fell 34% in March, compared with that month in 2012. “Low inventory is plaguing housing markets all over the country, and Massachusetts is no exception,’’ said David Harris, editorial director of the Warren Group. “There is definitely concern that such steep price spikes will cause an affordability issue.” Meanwhile, Kimberly Allard-Moccia, broker-owner of Century 21 Professionals in Braintree and president of the Mass. Assoc. of Realtors, said she is happy that so many people are interested in buying a home, but she wishes more sellers would embrace that optimism about the housing market and list their properties. “A good supply of homes for sale is the only thing we’re missing from a sustainable housing recovery,’’ she said.