Published in the February 1, 2017 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The Ship, 24 Broadway, might not be sailing away just yet.
In a phone interview with the Villager, Historical Commission Chairman Steve Todisco said the commission and Ship Mall, LLC’s owners came to an agreement last week that will delay razing the iconic building on Route 1. According to a letter from attorney Ted Regnante, the developer will delay filing a demolition permit request with Building Inspector John Roberto until three days after the Historical Commission’s meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 22.
“We are going to do a walkthrough with the owners to determine if there are any parts of the building that have architectural or historical significance that can be preserved or incorporated into the project,” Todisco.
Todisco said the Historical Commission was considering placing The Ship on the town’s list of historical properties, but said the restaurant’s developers showed up at the commission’s meeting concerned. He said the two sides “agreed to the 30 day stay.”
Regnante said in the letter the Historical Commission’s request will “give us an opportunity to meet with the commission informally and to have them view the site in an attempt to reach a resolution of the issues.”
“We do intend in the interim to submit information on the rodent and asbestos abatement plans,” said Regnante in the letter, which was sent to Roberto.
Additionally, Regnante informed the Villager in a phone interview the developer will be providing the commission with information on why he believes The Ship does not have any “historical or architectural significance.”
Ship Mall, LLC’s owners recently filed an application with the Zoning Board of Appeals to demolish The Ship building and replace it with a new building containing 7,580 sq. ft. of retail space. The proposed project also includes building a 2,500 sq. ft. drive-up restaurant and coffee shop, and a 2,500 sq. ft. free standing East Boston Savings Bank branch building that will be located next to the Christmas Tree Shop. The Christmas Tree Shop will remain at the site.
Todisco said he learned about The Ship being razed after reading about it in local newspapers. While he acknowledged saving The Ship might be a difficult task, Todisco noted Saugus is incorporating the giant orange dinosaur and Hilltop Steakhouse cactus into new development projects on Route 1.
“Our Ship is worth looking at,” said Todisco.
Regnante said in a press release the plans on file with the Building Department show “improved access off Daly Road and Route 1.” He said the project includes “additional landscaping and other site improvements.”
Todisco noted The Ship closed its doors recently. According to the restaurant’s website, former Gloucester sea captain James F. Wilkinson built The Ship in May 1925, which originally opened as a small refreshment stand on the Newburyport Turnpike. The restaurant was a popular dining destination a long time ago. Todisco noted he attended a high school prom at The Ship in the 1960s.
“If you went to The Ship, you were styling in those days,” said Todisco. “It was the place to go. It had a fantastic reputation and great food.”
The matter will be discussed at a ZBA public hearing on Tuesday, February 7, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The project will also be discussed at a Conservation Commission public hearing on Tuesday, February 21, beginning at 6:30 p.m.