Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Derby Lofters Whining Again

In yet another display of why city council shouldn't be in charge of things like outdoor dining permits, the downtown parking plan has been tabled for now, due to the whining coming from around 20 residents of Derby Lofts. As we've discussed here, and here, and here, some Derby Lofters have an inflated sense of self-importance. They are at it again. Because 20-ish of them (in a city of more than 40,000) have complained that they don't like some of the rules, the council is kowtowing to 0.05% of the citizens. Good job guys! It's that kind of kowtowing that led to the forming of urban renewal districts, and Redevelopment Authorities, to take some decisions away from elected officials who are always willing to kowtow to the screaming minority.

The beginning of the Salem News piece is funny. It reads, "Strong and unified opposition voiced last night by residents of Derby Lofts condominiums delayed the City Council's expected action on major changes to the city's management of downtown parking." Strong and unified opposition? There are 54 units in the building. Many are occupied by more than one person. Let's go with the assumption that the building houses 75 people. Well then less than a third showed up. So, not even a majority of Lofters showed up, while the council is acting like a majority of citizens have an issue here.

I'm not saying the parking plan released was perfect. I critiqued it here. But it's important to note that Derby Lofters have a long history of complaining about their parking passes. See here and here. It's also important to consider that the purchase of these passes was very clearly explained during the sales process of Derby Lofts. I know, as I was house hunting at the time, and went through the pitch. Thank God I didn't buy there. Julianna Tache did a very thorough job of explaining that the parking pass purchase was mandatory due to the lack of onsite parking. Stealing from my previous parking critique, it's interesting that I have the two issues that this 0.05% of Salem residents is complaining about listed as the first two in "the good" of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  1. Enforcement hours until 8 PM. OK, so really this is a money grab, but it's a money grab that I like. Let's use the lots at Lafayette and New Derby as an example. It's 5:30 at night, and you're on your way to a friend's house. You want to pop into Pamplemousse to grab a bottle of wine, or you're feeling klassier and want to run into the Beehive for a whoopie cushion. These lots are your closest, best bet for a parking spot for ten minutes. There's only one problem. It's now 5:30. Nearly every spot in these two lots has been gobbled up by a Derby Lofter, and won't be made available again until they leave for work at 7:45 in the morning. Yes, even though they have passes to the garage down the street, they choose to park here because it's free after 5 and it's about 300 feet closer. What should happen here is that one of these lots, maybe the one that exits onto Lafayette only, should be short term, maybe half 30 minute and half hour spaces. Heck, charge a buck an hour for them. People who need to get in and out to patronize a business will pay it to have the space. Alas, we'll get to the actual plan in "the bad" Enforcement till 8 PM will help keep spots open for people patronizing businesses, and push residents to the permit garages, where they make the most sense.
  2. Really inexpensive parking in the South Harbor Garage. Great news for people willing to walk from there to Pickering Wharf, and great for patrons of Murphy's and Beer Works.

If you want downtown to thrive, and be an evening destination, patrons have to be able to access downtown businesses, in the evening. When residents fill the public lots, that doesn't happen. I'm loathe to drive downtown at night, or on Sunday, unless I'm going for hours, because I know that the public lots have become Loft parking. Many a time I've passed up downtown shops for those on Highland Ave because I knew I'd have to walk blocks and blocks for my 2-minute purchase.

The council is giving in to the very people who make extended hours and Sunday enforcement necessary. They come home at 5PM, don't go to the garage they have permits for (note that the reason for the reduced rates is that it is underutilized, in contrast to their argument that there are no spaces), and park in the lots that are there for patrons of nearby businesses. I'd enforce the meters till at least 8PM, and maybe later on the weekends.

In a somewhat related note, I wrote previously that "Derby Lofts Lawsuit" was a popular search term that lands people on this site. While researching this post, I may have found what that search term is about. Apparently in addition to complaining about the rest of parking in "their" garage, they also complain about each other, in court. For a half million bucks, you can live with a drug addict whose mommy bought him a condo. Congrats! He may be worse for property values than Shirley.

On the other hand, apparently there was another lawsuit against Derby Lofts and several unit owners themselves, as well as their mortgage companies, filed by James J. Welch & Co for failure to pay over 6 milliion dollars in construction costs. That suit was filed in 2005 and a settlement was agreed to on 4/3/2006. The civil docket number was ESCV2005-02123. So maybe that's what people are looking for.


  1. BTW, there are currently 5 MLS listed units for sale at Derby Lofts, all with discounts of 50k or more from their original sale prices. 2 share the fifth floor with the outspoken Ms. Walker. 1, the unit directly above the Engine House Pizza entrance, is listed at $249,000. It was purchased in 2005 for $415,900. It's now almost half price! What a steal!

  2. I should add, I agree that their passes should also be valid in the Museum Place garage. They have a valid point there.

  3. Well said. I can't count the times I've wasted time trying to find a parking spot to pick up a pizza at the engine house, or pop into the Bank of America ATM, only to have to drive in circles in search of parking. Arugh. I would get behind enforcing until 8.

  4. G: The parking passes are valid at both Salem Harbor and Museum Place garages.

    While I think it stinks Derby Lofts has turned the parking lot on Lafayette into their own personal driveway, it stinks even more that there are no accommodations or reserved spaces for these residents in either of the garages. All condominium residents in that area of downtown with no on site parking are forced to purchase an annual parking pass, however, these passes do not guarantee any of those holders an actual parking place to park their car.


Don't forget, keep it klassy!