Thursday, December 15, 2005

Mayo Group Article

Here is a link to a recent article in the Boston Globe about Mayo Group and the owner John McGrail.

http://www.boston.com/realestate/articles/2005/11/19/location_actually_it_isnt_everything/

It's essentially about how he went about making his millions and his strategy for reinvigorating rough neighborhoods. He essentially followed the Trumph principal - invests in border-line property and make it work. And he has indeed done well. It's the American principal, seize opportunity. I have no issues with this, who with common sense would. My issue is that McGrail seems incapable or unwilling to exercise good quality control on workmanship resulting in the aggravation that I and every other resident in my building is having. I'm not alone in my problems with the place. All the residents have some serious issues. We like living here. Central Square has a great vibe and it's getting better every day. We like our spaces. We like our location. We just want what was promised us, in writing I might add, and in a prompt manner. I don't believe that's asking too much.

A quote from the article caught my attention:

''You are never going to be able to make everyone happy," he said. ''You look at all the housing we've created and it's a small minority of people who don't agree with the work we've done."

-- John McGrail

Does an entire building constitute a minority? If we are the exception to the rule, well then great. It means Mayo is perfectly capable of doing quality work. Fine, come fix our problems then.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

What Lies Beneath, the Update

That banging in the wall - it was from two large PVC pipes expanding and contracting with temperature change. The two pipes are respectively the air intake and exhaust for the gas furnace in Unit 2C. Second floor units have their HVAC systems inside their units while the 3rd and 4th floors have their HVAC on the roof. The pipes were creaking from the cooling effects of drawing in cold outside air and the expansion of the exhaust pipe from the hot gas. There is only one support along the floor holding the vertical pipes in place. There are no other supports until somewhere in the ceiling. I shimmed in some lubricated backing material to hold the pipes away from the wall as much as possible. Difficult since the tolerance is only about half a centimeter on either side. This mitigated much of the noise, but it still bangs a little bit, but not annoyingly so and not so much as to startle me in the night. Much of the noise is actually coming from inside the ceiling, and I'm not about to cut a hole into the crawlspace anytime soon. So, it'll have to wait until the association is under our control since this is a problem covered by the condo rules. As always, I'll keep you posted on further developments.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Lynn is THE Up and Coming City

My analytical skills are quite advanced, but I must admit there is no science or method behind my statement. What prompted my statement is that I've seen more articles about the gentrification of Lynn, and the subsequent challenges, in the Boston Herald and Boston Globe more often than someplace like Lowell. Every article about Lynn mentions the renovation of downtown with hyperbole such as "renaissance" and "rebirth." These terms are a bit too flowery for my tastes. I like to think of it more as downtown sporting a snazzy new coat. To quote Fernando, "If you look good you feel good. If you feel good you'll look maavelous, dahling." "Renaissance" strikes me as a bit high-brow, and "rebirth" just seems like a down-right-painful experience- imagine pushing a football through a cheerio, twice. Get me?

Walk around Central Square on any clear night and you can see the change. It's palpable. Just look at the cars. Cars say a lot about a neighborhood. We have everything from Hummer H2s to Corollas. Now a street savvy person would say this just means we're in a dealers den. I counter this by pointing out we have a high number of Mini Coopers, S version and standard, as well as a high number of Elements, New Beetles in vapor blue, one very stylish Audi TT coupe with the original German suspension in place, and an alarming high number of Saabs. No self-respecting gangsta would call this block his crib. All the cameras, the police HQ down the block, and high dog population help keep any nefarious persons in check, too.

Speaking of dogs, have you met Cloe (sp?) the great dane in the Keith Building? She is enormous, and beautiful. Such a sweet disposition too. The best resident in the building by any measure. I think she's also the most popular resident downtown. Everybody knows her and says hello, but can't seem to remember her human cohabitant's names. Really funny. Such a sweetie.

Speaking of dogs, nighttime, around 7ish, is a great time to meet dog owning neighbors. Everybody's out walking the family furball. Such a grand procession too. All sizes, all disposition, tailed, tailless, grandiose, and goof balls. Shanna's Chinese pug puppy is the cutest! Hyper, lots of energy, so much that she tires out even little Fenway Jack; until recently the energizer bunny of pups. Scary.

Doughnuuuuuuuts! We have a new Dunkin Doughnuts setting up shop at the corner of Union and the square. Now that's a sure sign of progress! There's also a rumor of a nice Italian restaurant going in somewhere close on Union St. If we could get a little movie rental place on the square, now that would be terrific. Someplace like Mike's Video in South End. A wine shop would be terrific too! I wonder if Deluca's Market would be interested in setting up shop here. Hmmmmmm. We'll see.

I hear Ikea may be coming to town. Email Jamie Marsh, Mayor's chief of staff for more info.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Rear Window -

- Is still leaking. How do I know? Because I awoke to a pool of water on my bedroom window sill and floor. The water is seeping through the divider between the upper and lower window sash. I also have increasingly worse water damage in the kitchen windows. Mayo Group still hasn't caulked the exterior of these windows on the side of the building. They can't use a boom to get to them. They have to use scaffolding.

It appears Mayo Group doesn't care about it's customers once the unit has been sold. They don't honor their warranty, and they are not responsive when there is a problem. It's been 4 months since the absence of the fire door closers was reported and they still haven't fixed it. Especially alarming when you consider it's a firecode violation. The lobby water damage still hasn't been repaired. They don't do their job and maintain the property. There are 3 lightbulbs out in the lobby, and have been for 2 weeks now.

The building is still under their control so I can't have the association repair it even though it's association responsibility. The building was to be handed over back in June according to the condo docs.

Bottom line: Don't buy from Mayo Group. You'll be sorry you did.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

What Lies Beneath

BANG! SNAP! POP!

Early morning. Dark. The noise came from the hall. "Oh god, what did Mayo ^&*% up this time," I thought to myself. I hopped out of bed to investigate, briskly rubbing my goose-pimples while shuffling to the hall to take a peek through bleery morning sleep.

Nuth'n.

Not a single thing out of place. Could have been something hitting the roof I suppose. Maybe some weight challenged pigeons playing chicken with their reflection in the roof pond. The east drain doesn't work great. We have a roof pond. Be sure to check your roof.

I turned to dive back into pillowed heaven when there it was again.

bang, hiss, pop

Right next to me. It's coming from the wall. Inside the wall.

- analysis -

Rats? No food.

Al Capone? No Heraldo.

Heraldo? Maybe.

There it goes again. Is the building settling? Is it the cold? There's something banging and rubbing in there. I put my ear against it... whirrrrrrrrrrr. Definately not Heraldo. Maybe a bathroom vent fan - similar.

...click.... click..... click

silence.

It's gone.

I eat my upper lip and think about it. Well, nothing I can really do about it now I figure, and my tush is cold. Swoooooosh. I'm back in bed. zzzzzzzzz.

DONG, BANG, click-click-click-click

8 a.m.

It's back. Yawwwwnnnnnnnnnnn. I shuffle on over, scratch, scratch, scratch. Yep, same noise, same wall, same whirrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

... click .... click...

silence.

.. click...

It's taunting me.

I squint and examine my options. Being a man of action I guess I'll just have to open her up and see what's inside. You know what that means - POWER TOOLS!! Oh yeah.

- to be continued -

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tiffany's at Gulu-Gulu

Monday night is movie night at the Gulu-Gulu cafe. They usually play foreign films, independent films, and old-old movies (not mutually exclusive). Last nights showing of Breakfast at Tiffany's was particularly enjoyable. Adam and Beth my downstairs neighbors were cuddled on the couch. Steve and Marie were there sauntering about, working. The place was quiet, and the gentle rain outside added to the cozy ambiance. A glass of red, a plate of chocolate cake - a lovely evening.

Adam, Beth and I had some good conversation covering subjects that litter talks between new home owners - heating bills, noise, furniture, space, and how many times we mooned the neighbors before we got blinds. Yuppies are a bit of a curiosity here so we also have our fair share of people "inspecting" our homes through all manner of tippy-toe-neck stretching shoulder stacking antics. And then there is the binocular viewing from the Pevear apartment building across the street. I have my own set of binoculars. I watch them watch me. We wave.

So, for your curiosity here is how my place looks. Sorry about the mess.

Living room.



Dining area and kitchen, the poster is meant to be crooked.

Part of the Bedroom

One of the 2 Bathrooms

And I'll put up pictures of the study and the other bathroom once they're finished.

We also talked about Depeche Mode, a band Adam and I enjoy, as well as the happenings around town, and, of course, power-tools. The bit of conversation I remember the most, though, is a tidbit from Steve. He stopped by briefly and watched a bit of the movie with us. Steve and I raised our glasses and Steve proposed a toast - "to life."

To life, I thought quietly to myself - one sweet rainy day at a time.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Rain

Rain. Many people tend to equate rain with dreary gray skies, and endless days of chill. These are the sun addicts. I am not one of them. I love the rain. It cleans and refreshes, much like Listerine, but without the god awful taste. It cleans the streets, takes away fall leaves, and washes the bird poop off the roof. The same can't be said of sun. Sun, bleaches your furniture, makes the apartment hot, and jacks up your AC bill. But, I must admit, it sure does feel nice on cold days, and the plants really like it.

So, one may ask, what does rain have to do with Lynn Lofts. Simple: go see a loft in the rain. It will tell you much about the space, because, you see, rain puts things in focus. It's an enhancer. Much like the colour red, rain will enhance every curve, lift every feature, and point out every sag and misplaced cellulite. It makes great spaces look terrific and bad spaces absolutely miserable. If you can imagine your space cozy in the rain then in sunlight it will be an absolute delight. Rain, it's your friend.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Care for Your Home

Care for your home and she will care for you.

My home is alive. She breathes. She rises with the sun, stretching in the light. Her old bones crackle, twist and pop in the warmth. She yawns, awakening with those who dwell within her.

My home feels. She cringes at the cold. Protests with each dropping digit. She groans in the rain, and laughs at the snow.

My home listens. She records every gossip, quietly laughs at stupid jokes, and you can hear her whisper in every echo in the hall.

I care for my home. She holds me, as I weep.

Hell has frozen over!!!

Ok, more like a light frost. Mayo Group is actually fixing something on the Keith building!!! Who would have thunk it! They brought in a lift today so workers can actually reach the windows to properly caulk it (instead of hanging out the window like the last time). The story as of this morning is that the first worker didn't have experience on the lift and got pretty nervous about working so high off the ground. Having a great fear of heights myself I can certainly appreciate this. So they're trying to find someone with experience to do it. According to the signage, they have allocated today and tomorrow for the effort. Now the question is - will they actually do it, or is it all for show. Mayo Group has a tendency to reallocate resources on-the-fly, so there is a real possibility that the people working on the Keith will mysteriously migrate over to 7 Central or the personal property Mayo's owner is having built in town.

If and when the work is complete then we'll need a good soaking to see if they actually did the work correctly. Mayo Group's problem is not just the lack of execution, but when executing they have a tendency to not complete the work, or if they complete it the work is done improperly, and they always miss something. I bet they'll "forget" to also caulk the south western side windows. The south western windows have absolutely no caulking around them. Getting to these windows is further complicated by the fact they sit in a wedge adjacent to the building next-door, and the rear of the building does not open to the street but instead to the rooftops of adjacent buildings; so, a scissor truck will not fit. They have to use a platform on beams.

I'll report more as the story develops. Details at eleven.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Absolute BEST Vietnamese Food!

Pho Lynn, the Vietnamese restaurant on Munroe St. Across from the Munroe St. Lofts has the BEST Vietnamese food I have ever tasted. I have had a ton of Vietnamese cuisine in my having even traveled to Cambodia, next to Vietnam, and sampled the Vietnamese cuisine there. Didn't have the time to make it all the way to Vietnam. Anyway, I thought I'd found some very good dishes, and was enamored with a few places in Brookline - until Pho Lynn. OH - MY - GOD! The food is so GOOD, and CHEAP! And very good for you. Amazing! Cheap, good, and good for you! Fresh too. I believe that is the trick. They use very fresh ingredients. Difficult to do when you run your own business. There's always a temptation to skimp. I'm sure they do in other areas, but apparently not in areas that my discerning palate can notice. They also have a fine selection of imported beers, in particular the Asian variety, naturally. I highly encourage you to go. Be sure to introduce yourself and let them know Marcus sent you. Have the Pho-Tai. Excellent! Just go. Go now!

Welcome Sloan Machinery Lofts

The Sloan Machinery Lofts are almost sold out. I think there are about 4 units left, maybe less since their website isn't updated very often. That's 28 out of 32 units sold. The Sloan is very nice in that it has inside garage parking as well as deeded parking on the premises. I met a very nice couple that actually bought the model unit, but embarrassingly I can't remember their names. It must have been the French Canadian beer I was sipping at the Gulu.

Selling as many units as they did is quite an accomplishment for the RCG sales team. Kudos to them for a job well done. The Sloan sits right at the rim of the downtown area. Only the Ladder 3 Lofts, also RCG and under construction, are further out. It sits directly across the street from city hall and a lovely church on the corner. The Church is an architectural piece, handsome, and grand in an understated way. I love how the ivy creeps along it's exterior. I haven't seen the inside, but I plan on visiting.

The Sloan sales is good news for downtown. More happy residents to a very happy and welcoming neighborhood. There's a strong sense of community amongst the downtown folk. It's most palpable during meet and greets amongst the "lofters" at the Gulu. Lots of yuppies all curious about who lives next door. A very welcoming group. At times opinionated. Often grumpy, but always charming.

Welcome Sloaners, I can't wait to meet you all.

The Ghost of Lynn

Fog. Thick, almost mist, but not quite. Much like a twenty-five year old male, an adult, but not. Dense. Very dense.

Fog, it ebbs and flows through the concrete pillars of the garage, embracing everything. The moon dims, cars slow, the stars vanish. What once dry is now wet. What once damp is dripping. I can hear it running down the lamppost, watch it ripple in the light, hear the drips fall to the street. Feel it slip through my fingers.

Fog, it's cotton in my ears, cotton in my eyes, it teases my noise, fills my lungs, and weighs heavy on my chest. It visits through my windows and fills the room. It's cold.

An apparition, it is. One that tastes wonderful in hot tea, with milk and honey, wearing warm fuzzy slippers.

The Ghost of Lynn... likes jazz.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I have the POWER!

I am regressing to my elementary years. In the midst of all the frustration I've had with Mayo Group's crappy construction and non-responsiveness I have discovered tremendous joy in the form of - POWER TOOLS!!!

Well, tools in general actually. I've had a cordless drill for 10 years, and it's seen some moderate use, but nothing too impressive. I still have that same cordless drill and it works just great, but not as long as it once did since the rechargable batteries are a bit long in the tooth. Just what does "long in the tooth" really refer to anyway? But I digress. The baseboard in my apartment has been pulling away from the walls due to the forces of changing temperature and humidity that is especially strong here in ocean-side Lynn. It was really bad in spots, 1/2 inch gap running along a 6 foot section. New construction always has problems here and there, but I've never seen baseboard issues like this. At first glance I suspected the baseboards weren't properly coped in the inside corners since all the runs with issues terminated in inside corners at both ends. Since much of the interior was done by unskilled labor there is a good possiblity that the installers used standard miter cuts instead of coping cuts, but in all fairness even with coped ends with runs this long the baseboard will likely warp, a little, not 1/2 gaps! What I discovered is that the baseboard was nailed in place. The studs in the Keith and most of the other condominums is steel not wood. With steel frame construction one uses trim head screws not nails to attach the baseboard, unless you put down wood along the bottom for nails to attach to. There is no wood behind the baseboard. It's all steel. I drilled some holes, poked around, yep - it's steel. The baseboard needed to be fixed, but my old drill just wasn't going to be able to drive those long screws through board, drywall, and then steel. That meant new POWER TOOLS!

After much research, checking of funding, and receiving of a handy 10% off "welcome to the neighborhood" coupon from Home Depot - I went shopping. I ended up with the Ryobi 18 volt Super Combo. The latest one with the Torque IV drill - looks like a big ray gun. This wasn't my first tool purchase, but it was the most fun. Man, these 18 volt cordless tools are terrific, but then again even a Pinto seems fast after riding a Vespa. I also happen to have a toolbelt. A very nice accessory I needed to carry my tools while doing electrical work and leak fixing 12 feet up on a ladder. BUZZZZZ, ZAP, ZAP, ZAP - a high powered drill, with clutch, is beauty in motion. Robertson bit, trim-head screws, Yankee screwdriver, dripless caulk gun, ZAP-ZAP-ZAP... problem solved. Looks great, if I do say so myself.

I'm still deciding which is more satisfying - the sense of accomplishment after fixing the trim or the child like joy of John-Wayne-ing around with a heavy drill slung in the belt holster. I'll get back to you - after my milk and cookies.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Mayo Exoneration

The first step in resolving a problem is to identify that problem, and then articulate how to address that problem. For Mayo Group to exonerate itself to my satisfaction it must do the following:
  1. Properly and completely caulk, glaze the exterior of all windows to stop the water leakage that occurs with every rainfall. This would be all windows on the north side of the building, all windows on the west side of the building, and two south facing windows on the top floor.
  2. Fix both roof leaks in unit 4B by properly grading the roof to drain all water and properly sealing all roof penetrations.
  3. Repair the extensive water damage around the lobby window next to the mailboxes and properly seal the window and the exterior sill above the window to prevent further water intrusion.
  4. Repair the water leakage into the basement area from the sidewalk occurring through a hole in the basement ceiling directly above the sidewalk by properly repairing the hole.
  5. Install automatic door closing arms on the fire doors in the main lobby, the stairwell door on the 4th floor off the main stairs, and the stairwell door on the 2nd floor on the east stairs.

That's it. They only have to do five things. All this trouble for these 5 things. Exasperating.

Doing the Right Thing

I was raised by my father, a single parent, to do the right thing. To make the hard decisions for the good even when it seems more advantages not to. I'm not perfect. I've fallen down in the past, and I'm sure I'll fall down plenty more in the future, but I know what I'm supposed to do and I give it my best.

I bring this up because it occurred to me that my blog may not be very popular with downtown residents. There's a lot of negative statements, all true, about the Mayo Group in my blog. It just so happens that Mayo owns much of the area in Downtown Lynn, and is in the process of developing 7 Central Condominiums. It's a sizable property and one that will hopefully bring in more young professionals like the others who live here. Everyone in the neighborhood, yours truly included, has a vested interest in more good people moving downtown. It will improve the area, improve the community, improve business, and raise the property value. That last one is of particular importance to residents.

Many people bought here with the idea of making a big return in real estate. I actually moved here because it was affordable, near the beach (I SCUBA), near the train, and looked like it was a pretty good place to live. The fact that my property will be worth more later is just a given, because real-estate tends to work that way 95% of the time. I'm not out to make a killing.

People here don't want any bad press. Lynn is a bit rough with Downtown emerging from the grime a year ago due to the terrific efforts of developers such as RCG, Montreal, and Mayo (give credit when deserved). People fear that any bad press may jeopardize the good things that are happening here. That is a valid concern. My response to this criticism are these questions:
  • Is property value worth watching neighbors die in a fire because Mayo did not meet fire codes?
  • Is property appreciation worth watching a friend and neighbor endure a ceiling collapse from a leaky roof that Mayo did not fix?
  • Is property appreciation worth new residents despising us because we kept the truth from them for the sake of greed?
At what cost will people sell their principles?

Often, keeping ones mouth shut is doing the right thing. This time - no, I don't think so.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ikea In Lynn

I am wondering, what does it take to attract a retailer like Ikea to Lynn? They tried to open up in Somerville but encountered considerable resistance from the residents adjacent to Assembly Square. If Lynn were able to secure similar concessions from Ikea that Ikea proposed to Somerville (T renovation, Park land and development, etc.) it would be great for the city. On the surface a spot on the Lynnway seems perfect for them. It's in a commercial area with other big box retailers, Walmart, Building 19, which are not direct competitors. There are no adjacent residential properties. It's near the commuter rail. They can run shuttle service to the blue-line. The income demographics of Nahant, Swampscott, Salem, Marblehead, Beverly, Lynn, etc. are in their target zone, and we're right next to Boston, not out in Stoughton.

Ikea is an environmentally conscious business with a history of opening in more industrial areas - West Long Island, South Philadelphia, New Haven, Pittsburgh - so they're not adverse to establishing themselves in unpolished locations. They may even help pay to move those power lines and / or renovate the ocean front along part of the Lynnway. It could be Ikea and the Ikea/Lynn memorial park or something like that.

I'm a big proponent of corporate stewardship and community involvement. This would be an opportunity for Ikea to help Lynn in many ways while accessing a vast customer base. It's good marketing, it's good business. It's a win-win proposal.

Think of it. If Ikea also provided shuttle service to the Central Square Commuter stop it would boost foot traffic through Central Square. It would also make Masschusetts and Bostonians more aware of Lynn and downtown, most likely attracting new residents. Especially if Ikea has an oceanfront park outback for people to enjoy. Can you imagine eating Swedish Meatballs overlooking the ocean? Now at first the idea of an Ikea as beach-front property seems terrible, but when you consider the land I'm thinking of is currently an industrial wasteland it isn't so bad. Also, what I'm proposing is that Ikea overlook a park that stretches to the water-front, not that Ikea be at the water-front. That would just be, well, in bad taste.

Now, the question is: Does Lynn want Ikea?

What to Expect in a Lynn Loft

It occurred to me that if you came to my blog without having actually seen a Lynn Loft or researched them you wouldn't know what to expect. Well let me tell you, the spaces in these lofts are the North Shore's best kept secret. Obviously it's not exactly a secret since this blog is here and the properties are being sold, but Lynn's reputation as a rough city has kept a lot of people from buying into a beautiful place to live. Here's a list of what you'll find:

  1. Old turn of the century urban architecture - lots of granite and chiseled building faces with most buildings built in the 1800s with interiors completely gut renovated. Most are 4 stories or more. Gorgeous!
  2. Ceiling height of 12 Ft. or more.
  3. 8 Ft. by 5 Ft. - that's 8 vertical feet people - windows. I have 10. You may get more or less, and sizes do vary, but not by much.
  4. 1200+ glorious square ft. of hardwooded living space. I have 1268 sft. ;)
  5. Exposed metal vent ducts, exposed brick in may buildings, cast iron window headers, and thick timber supports. Beautiful!
  6. Central AC and Heat. Did I mention central AC?
  7. Modern appliances including dishwasher, washer and dryer in the unit.
  8. Granite counter tops.
  9. Recessed lighting or track lighting.
  10. Lots of closet space. I have 4 closets total with a walk-in the size of a small Boston study.
  11. Most 1200+ units under $300k, many under $280k.
  12. That chic urban industrial cool vibe you always wanted.

Industrial buildings with old bones have a spirit you just can't find in any other kind of architecture. These buildings are 100+ years old and they've survived 2 massive fires and countless years of neglect and underappreciation. If you love architecture your jaw will drop when you see these condos. I'll post some pics so you have some visuals, but I must say the pictures do no justice to the scale of the space when you're standing in it.

Lofts in Lynn:

  1. Boston Machine Lofts - big and beautiful
  2. Exchange St. Lofts - giant old financial building - some units still have vaults complete with doors
  3. Keith Building Condominiums - my building
  4. Munroe St. Lofts - soho style - just one big room - very cool
  5. 31 Munroe Lofts - 3 floor-through units complete with parking
  6. Sherry Lofts - big building with parking
  7. Sloan Machinery Lofts - big converted machinery factory - heated inside parking
  8. Ladd 3 Lofts - old firehouse with townhouse upper units - under construction
  9. 7 Central - old building with two upper floors added later in life - developed by Mayo - be cautious

Boston Machine Lofts - Vacancy

There are units for sale in the Boston Machine Lofts. If I were looking for a place I'd seriously consider buying in that building. The building is gorgeous and RCG did a great job with each unit, especially considering it was their first, Sloan Machinery Lofts being their second. The building has been around for a year now, so many of the kinks have been worked out. They make great use of space, the finishes are very nice, it has exposed brick, storage room in the basement, gas range, and I believe comes with washer and dryer with the unit. Of course the sellers may take the appliances with them so be sure to confirm.

The BML is especially nice because it's close to the train, but buffered by location and adjacent buildings from the noise. It has leased parking in the back of the building ($45, I believe), and it's right in Central Square where all the life is. The police station is one block away, the post office is on next block. The residents also fashioned an outside patio area in an alley way on the west side of the building. They have a grill! So you can still BBQ. I don't have that, so I'm a bit jealous.

According to the Tache real-estate site there are two units open, but there could be more or less, because Tache doesn't update their site very quickly and also because they only show properties for which they are the sellers. Rumor has it the front facing unit on the second floor with the big oval window is for sale. I hear it's beautiful. I haven't seen the inside yet. It is a very desirable unit. Unique. A top floor unit on the back west side is also said to be for sale. It's smaller, in the upper 900 sft., but that's still quite sizable. It has skylights in addition to all it's windows.

If you're interested in the properties in Central Square I encourage you to contact Kim D'orazio: kimd.tache@verizon.net. She was actually the seller's agent for Mayo Group. Although I don't care for Mayo Group, Kim is a true professional. Likeable, and a straight talker. Since she is a professional if you deal with her as a seller's agent then she'll make sure she takes care of the seller, but she doesn't do anything shady, she gives you all the information you need and more, and also helps you through the entire process if you're a new buyer with no buyer's agent. After what I went through with my buyer's agent, bad experience but I learned a lot, if I were buying now I'd deal directly with her. Actually for the last couple of weeks of my closing I did because my buyer's agent was problematic. She knows the area and what's going on. Kim also deals with excellent associates for financing.

Be sure to get your home inspector, and do get a home inspector, period. Kim isn't an inspector, it's not her job, so it's best for you to get one yourself. Always get a home inspector. Just because it's new construction and must meet new building codes does not mean:
  • A) The building actually does meet codes even though it was certified by the city.
  • B) The inspectors didn't miss anything, because in the case of my building they obviously did (a.k.a. firecode violations)
  • C) Everything will be problem free in the future. My inspector noticed the south wall was falling down. Ok for certification now, but maybe not a year from now. It got fixed.

The BML is a great place to live. The people who live there are terrific. It's pet friendly - cute little Ivan, Jada, and Jack - dogs - live there. Oh, and it's across from the Gulu. What more could you ask for?

Come take a look. You'll really like it.

www.bostonmachinelofts.com

www.sloanmachinerylofts.com

www.tache.com

Gulu-Gulu = Happy

It was 8 pm., dark, and wet. I hopped off the train and marched down the platform - the locomotive grinding the rails beside me then away. Sound - sound - sound. The hum of the fluorescent lights. The flop and splash of leather soles in new puddles. Cars passing on wet streets. I had a rough day. I fixated on chilled cheap peach flavored wine. I have three big bottles in the fridge.

There's something very calming about Central Square. The antique Clock glowing in the night. Big Scoops ice-cream parlor, closed, simple, cozy. Raw Arts, a sliver of a building yet it dominates the square like a beloved older sister prominently displaying her pierced belly-button. But the Gulu - the Gulu has class. The kind you find in an artsy funky cousin in his 30s. It sits on the ground floor to the right of my lobby. The nice little bench right in front. I leaned over to peek in the window just to see what's up. There's Steve and Marie hanging out with some friends/customers chatting away. Steve has this infections and impish smile. Marie's smile warms the room. They're perfect for each other. Steve waves, Marie smiles, music jamming in the background. Probably Gregory - excuse me - DJ Amour, spinning in the back. I wave back and walk up to my home. The day just doesn't seem so bad anymore.

Leaky Window

I love the rain. Being from Seattle I've developed quite an affinity for it. The rain makes me feel at home. Because of the relatively wet weather, builders of homes in Western Washington are experts at making homes water tight. What I find amusing is that statistically the North Shore gets more rain than Seattle. Seattle is just very overcast from October to April. However, it appears builders, or at least Mayo Group's developers, don't' have a clue as to how to accomplish this very important, the most important, task when building a home. It rained again last night, and although the roof didn't leak, since I fixed the leak myself, the rain did manage to penetrate through the upper window frame in the master bedroom. It was 1 am. when the drip-drip-drip started. The drops fall 6 vertical feet from the edge of the upper window sash to the inside window sill below. That little drop is loud when it hits! Needless to say this really upset me. This problem has been going on for 2 months now, and I informed Mayo the day it happened. Mayo has yet to do anything to fix it. I'm tired of waiting. It's just not right. I think I'll be calling my lawyer today.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Train Noise

Don't underestimate the noise produced by the Train as it passes through the commuter rail station. Different trains have different noise levels. Some are relatively quiet while others will rattle your fillings. There is nothing between my place and the elevated platform except air. As a result I have nothing to buffer the noise of the trains as they pass. With the windows down the noise isn't bad. Modern windows dampen sound well. It appears the Engineers make a conscious effort to not ring the train bell too much or at all depending on the number of people on the tracks, weather conditions, unmet need to hear the bell, etc. It's the locomotive itself, however, that's actually loud.

The train noise is a very important detail to consider when purchasing a unit near the tracks, especially the condos in 7 Central, where a corner unit is a mere 25 Ft (estimate) from the tracks. I imagine the walls must vibrate when the train passes. Buildings such as the Boston Machine Lofts and Exchange St. Lofts which are near the tracks but have buffer buildings between them and the tracks needn't worry. Buildings like the Sherry, Keith, Monroe, 31 Munroe, and 7 Central have it a bit tough, especially the two Munroes and 7 Central. The developers of the Munroes designed the units so that there is a big closet and insulation between the wall facing the tracks and the unit interior. I don't think there are windows, so it shouldn't be bad at all. 7 Central will most likely have nothing to attenuate the noise since it's being developed by Mayo Group, which always does things as cheaply as possible, and tends to hire unskilled workers that exacerbate the problem.

The Sherry Lofts poses a mix. There are units that face the tracks, but the Munroe and Pevear buildings sit across the street and between the Sherry and the train; however, there is a large passageway (pretty actually, in an urban way) that leads to the platform from Munroe St. The units that face that passageway from the Sherry will probably get quite a bit of noise. My educated guess.

Most open houses are on the weekend, especially Sunday. Good for scheduling but bad for experiencing what the area is really like when you live here. The train runs more often during the week, and runs the least frequent on Sunday when realtors are showing the properties. You'll have to stick around and time your visit so a train goes by while you're looking at the property to truly appreciate the noise or lack of. I highly encourage you to do this. It will affect your decision, and should you decide to go for it you'll sleep well, even with the train. I'm a very light sleeper. The result of 6 years of military training sleeping on submarines in really sketchy waters. I sleep well. The rain wakes me more often than the train. The train - you get used to it.

Central Square Lynn - walk to the train, walk to the beach. If you don't mind the roar of ocean waves you'll find the train easy to deal with. While I'm thinking about it, I do recommend an eye mask for when the sun comes through those big monster windows. Noise - you can get accustom to - the sun - not a chance. Wakes you every time.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Board of Trustees

According to my condominium documentation Mayo Group was to transfer control of the building to the Keith Building Trust 3 months after 6 of the 8 units were sold. Well, all the units are sold, and 6 of them sold back in June. It's November now, so we're behind schedule. I wonder what the deal is. What adds to my aggravation is that since Mayo Group is curently the building manager all condo fees go to them. It covers things like electricity, water, cleaning, trash, etc. Well, there are still burnt out lightbulbs, the stairwells have never been cleaned, and the lobby seems to get cleaned once a month. What are we paying them for? I wonder where the money is really going.

Firecode Violation

The Keith Building is in violation of Massachusetts firecode. Three of it's stairwell doors don't have those arms that automatically close the door behind you. They have never been there. I have pictures, there are no screw holes or any marks to show that someone even thought about putting one there. What's a bit disturbing is that the building has a certificate of occupancy, which it shouldn't have received with those problems in place. The Fire Prevention Dept. has inspected the building twice and started fining Mayo. This has been going on since August. It's now November, and Mayo has absolutely done nothing. It'll be a very sad day for Lynn if a fire ever breaks out in the Keith Building. It'll essentially eliminate Lynn's hopes of developing the downtown, because all the deficiency and shaddy work will come out. It'll also mean I've lost all my stuff, and that would really suck.

Mayo Floods Keith Building

Well, not directly. Mayo in it's inept construction forgot to seal the exterior windows in the front of the building and on the west side of the building. There is no caulk/glazing between the window frames and the brick exterior. They just plain forgot to do it. Its obvious they knew it had to be done because the south side exterior windows all have proper glazing. So, to put things into perspective the windows of the Keith bulding are 8 Ft. tall and about 4 ft. wide or wider depending on the window. That means on a window of 8 Ft. x 4 Ft. a gap of 1/8 inch around the windows translate to 36 square inches or a 6 x 6 inch hole. All two bedroom units have at least 8 windows. I have 10. The single bedroom units have 4. Every single unit in the front of the building had flooding through the windows during the first rain storm we had back in June. It was bad. Mayo did come out and fix it... but their idea of fixing it was to hangout the window with a caulking gun and glaze around the window. No-one in Mayo is 8 Ft. tall, so they left the top 2 feet untouched. During this last week of rain that flooded just about everyone I know, the front apartments took a bad hit. The flooding was worse, and there's a tremendous amount of water damage. Unfortunately, although I'm on the south side of the building I had problems too. I had two roof leaks, one in my closet another above the bathrrom, and discovered to my dismay that the west side windows aren't sealed either - I got water damage around the window frame. Mayo has done nothing about the roof. I actually had to go up and seal the hole myself after a week of no action by them. It took me 10 minutes. What a bunch of lazy idiots.

The issues have become so bad for unit 4A that they've finally called in their lawyer. This wouldn't be a problem if Mayo would just own up to their work, or lack of, and fix the problems per their contract, but apparently that's not how they operate. Once they sell you the property - they try to screw you every chance they get.

Expanding Cronin's Cafe (BAR!)

Cronin's cafe is a bar near the corner of Washington and Union St. It's adjacent to the Pevear apartment building. Just read today in The Daily Item (the local non-investigative newspaper) that Cronin's is considering expanding.

http://www.thedailyitemoflynn.com/news/view.bg?articleid=10525

This has the potential to be a big problem for me. I've never been there. I've never set foot in the place, because it doesn't look inviting at all. It just doesn't appeal to me. I should visit just to see what it's like. What I do know is that it has security cameras hanging on the exterior and it's burglar alarm is REALLY LOUD! That alarm has kept me up many late nights as it goes off over and over again. Aside from the alarm - here are my concerns.

Parking - Cronins has no parking of its own. Cronin's is right next to the MBTA parking garage, which has plenty of parking, but why pay 2 bucks for parking when you can find it free on the street, right? Well, it just so happens that my building is across the street from Cronins (hence my hatred of the alarm). This means if there are more customers there's less parking for everyone who actually lives here.

Rowdy People - From what I've seen, Cronin's has problems that many bars do - rowdy crowds after closing. A condominium with 12 Ft. ceilings overlooking a street acts like a giant ear. I can listen in on street level conversations from 4 stories up. This also means tricked out cars/suvs/trucks with 12 inch woofers tend to rattle my teeth at 2 am. Add to that a crowd, a fist fight, and a few more cars - and - well - you have one very unhappy resident.

Crime - Big bars attract big crowds. Crowds mean more people. Bars take money. No money no drinky, so big crowds in big bar means lots of people with money. Lots of people with money mean more people to take money from. It also means lots of drunk people too slow to think about their cars parked on the street in front of my place. Which also brings us back to more cars. More people, more cars, more money, more things - to steal. Get the picture?

More business in Central Square will be great for downtown. I don't feel a large bar is a good business for the area. I want a neighborhood with taste. Albeit my idea of good taste, but taste none-the-less. A larger version of Gulu-Gulu, the Euro Cafe that serves wine and beer, would be much better since it attracts a different usually more responsible clientele. I don't feel the neighborhood should support the Cronin's expansion. It's legal, but it's a bad idea, and not right for our home.

Why am I Blogging

The only good source of information about the loft condominiums appearing in Central Square, Lynn, are the residents, like me, but you'll be hard pressed to find anything written directly by us. Most of the information is in edited form by some organization that has an interest in promoting the downtown area, so the information is a bit skewed. What I've read to date is not incorrect, but it can be a bit misleading, because it doesn't give a complete picture of what the downtown is like - good or bad. There's a tremendous amount to like about downtown Lynn, but there is also much to dislike and much that needs work. My hope is that my musings and experience will not only provide people with enough information to make an informed decision about moving here, but also help them realize what the challenges of moving to an up-and-coming area like Central Square, or anywhere for that matter, really entails.

I want you to move to Central Square - if you're a professional with no live-in children, good income, good taste in art, an international flair, and an activist spirit. It'll make my property value increase, and why wouldn't I want that. It'll make yours more valuable, I might add. So, you run the risk of hearing things persuading you to move here. Hey, it's in my best interest, but knowing me I think you'll probably get a lot more good, honest, hard information than from any real estate agent. It's your call.

In the interest of full disclosure: I'm also using this blog to highlight all the issues I'm having with the Mayo Group, a developer in downtown Lynn, and the developer of my building - The Keith Building. New construction has it's problems. Poor workmanship can, and often is, one of them. A non-responsive developer shouldn't be one of the problems you "buy" when purchasing your home. Mayo group does cheap and poor quality work, and I have plenty of evidence (lots of photos). So, this blog is also a personal crusade to inform prospective buyers of what you really buy when you buy from Mayo. In a word - problems.

This is my blog - Central Square Lynn - read at your own peril.