The city is considering selling a municipal-owned vacant lot on Howe Avenue, just off Route 8.
The 0.15-acre property at 252-254 Howe Ave. is approximately across from Wharf Street or the Route 8 southbound exit ramp. It is located between two multifamily buildings.
At one point, city officials had thought the lot might eventually be used to help build a southbound entrance ramp on Route 8 from Howe Avenue. That idea now seems impractical for various reasons.
Outside interest in buying the lot
A private entity has approached the city about buying the property, and the Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to look into the process of putting the land on the market.
“What’s the sense of keeping the lot?” said Alderman John P. Papa.
“Put it on the tax rolls,” said Alderman Eric McPherson.
At an aldermanic Finance Committee meeting on the possible sale, board President John F. Anglace Jr. said he would want a deed restriction to be included that would limit any construction to a maximum two-family home.
Anglace said while the empty lot — now covered by mowed grass — “keeps congestion down” in that area, it probably could accommodate a small residential structure. “We don’t have to sell it,” he noted.
Anglace discussed what steps are required to try to sell the land. “We’re going to have to do a few things,” he said of the process.
This would include getting opinions from the Parks and Recreation, Conservation, and Planning and Zoning commissions; a legal review by the city’s corporation counsel; an appraisal; a possible public hearing; and advertising for offers to purchase the land.
A legal opinion will be needed to determine whether a deed restriction may be placed on the land.
Anglace expects to hold a public hearing before any sale might take place. “We’ll hold a public hearing to get the public’s opinion on it,” he said.
According to the assessor’s field card, the empty lot is valued at $35,900 and the city became the owner in 2001.
Entrance ramp idea still viable?
Alderman Jack Finn said the city became owner of the property after a fire damaged the house that was on it, with the idea it could possibly be used someday to build an entrance ramp to Route 8 southbound on Howe Avenue.
Other nearby properties would need to be secured to build such a ramp.
“Have we abandoned that idea?” asked Finn, who also favors placing a deed restriction to limit the size of any new structure on the vacant lot.
Anglace said he doesn’t believe there is still interest in putting a highway entrance there, due to all the “displacement” it would cause and the topographical challenge of having a ramp reach the elevated highway.
‘Would be too costly’
Alderman Stanley Kudej, who is Finance Committee chairman, agreed. “I think it would be too costly because you’d need other properties,” he said.
“There are people who would like to have a ramp but it may not be something that can be accomplished,” Kudej said.
The ramp issue may be addressed in some of the referrals to come from the city commissions, aldermen said.