Salem News Staff writer
SALEM — The newest people in the city are couples
in their 30s and 40s, bachelors, single women,
divorcées, empty nesters. Most do not have children.
They work in Boston and on the North Shore, as financial
advisers, teachers, tech gurus, CEOs — and even, in one
case, as a bank teller.
They are the new faces of Salem, the people who are
moving into all the new luxury condominiums downtown.
And some are paying up to $750,000 for the privilege.
They have come to live urban, stylish lifestyles — at
less-than-Boston prices. They want shops, restaurants,
cafés and public transportation, all within walking
distance. And they want it more than they want a yard or
a garage: Some of them are paying more for their condos
than they would for a new single-family home.
They talk about Salem's "resurgence" over the past
few years, of its bounty of hip restaurants and stores.
The spaces have hardwood floors, high ceilings,
granite countertops and gas fireplaces. Some of the
developments — like Derby Lofts, the old police station
and The Distillery — feature pieces of the original
construction, such as exposed brick walls and timber
beams, for charm.
At the Salem Waterfront Hotel and Suites, service is
a central selling point. Maids clean the house and take
out the dry cleaning. Room service is always available.
And the toilet seats are engineered to close
automatically, silently, after use.
Here's a peek at some of Salem's new citizens and
their new homes.
Larry Littler, Salem Waterfront Hotel
Larry Littler, a wealth management adviser and
regional vice president for John Hancock, owns an airy,
fifth-floor condo atop the Salem Waterfront Hotel.
Floor-to-ceiling windows show views of Salem Harbor,
Pickering Wharf and the Peabody Essex Museum. Black
granite covers the fireplace and the kitchen countertop,
which has a built-in, refrigerated wine reserve. His
collection of bronze sculptures, one made to look like
his son, decorates the room.
"Waking up to this every morning isn't bad," Littler
said, smiling and gesturing to his new place.
Littler chose the hotel because he wanted to be near
his two sons, who live with their mother in a waterfront
home in Marblehead, just across the harbor. He also
wanted a low-maintenance lifestyle. His job with John
Hancock takes him around the country about two nights a
week. While he's gone, hotel staff clean his condo, wash
his laundry or take it to the dry cleaner and collect
his mail and packages. "It's really nice to be able to
come back to a place in order," Littler said. "Do you
pay a premium? Sure. But if you look at the value of
your time, it makes all the sense in the world."
In the 12 weeks he's lived here, he estimates he has
cooked six dinners. He calls hotel room service or walks
to the nearby restaurants. Strega is one of his
favorites. He shops at Crosby's Market for groceries and
stops at The Bung Hole Liquor Store for the occasional
six-pack. For breakfast, it's usually egg sandwiches at
The condos have wireless Internet connections, which
means Littler can work from home early in the day and
drive to Boston mid-morning, when traffic is less
congested. His condo comes with one parking space. It
also comes with a preferred slip in the marina. Littler
will park his 24-foot power boat right outside of Finz
Restaurant. He plans to take it across the harbor to
visit his sons, who are 7 and 10. The boys think the pad
is pretty cool, Littler said. They like the fireplace,
which flickers on at the touch of a remote control, and
the 50-inch plasma TV above it. Ordering pizza from room
service is another favorite. The boys sleep in bunk beds
in a room with a water view.
The hotel is also perfect for entertaining clients,
Littler said. The ballroom and conference rooms are
available for him to use. This fall, he plans to charter
two America's Cup antique yachts and take 20 of his best
clients on a sunset cruise.
Littler said his colleagues and partners are looking
into similar full-service real estate in Boston, at
places like the Intercontinental and the Four Seasons.
But those places run $1.5 to $2 million — and that's
without ocean access.
Littler paid about $750,000. "It's the best of Boston
with a North Shore flavor," Littler said. "And they all
look out for you, to a T."
Scott Levine, Derby Lofts
Scott Levine and his wife, Ela, closed on a
fourth-floor condominium at Derby Lofts last week. They
paid $399,000 to move in Sept. 1, just before the entire
six-story complex is complete. Because they agreed to
buy pre-construction, Levine said, "the price was good."
They are first-time condo owners. Derby Lofts was
attractive to them because of the downtown location and
the new building, Levine said. They doubted they could
afford a home as nice as their loft. "If I can't afford
a large, charming place on the water, we'll take a new
place downtown," said Levine, 34, who grew up in Peabody
and works as a mortgage broker at Global/Redwood
Financial Partners in Beverly. "I didn't want one of
those cookie-cutter townhomes going up everywhere. We
wanted unique space. And homes around here are
outrageous (in price) for what you get. So I thought the
value was good."
The Levines' two-bedroom is still under construction.
When they move in, it will have granite countertops,
stainless-steel appliances and hardwood floors. A
concierge and valet will greet them at the entrance.
There is a drive-through lobby for dropping off
groceries. "We have a partial ocean view, a balcony,"
Levine said. "You can see the harbor. It's pretty cool."
The loft comes with two parking spaces in the municipal
garage, just enough for the couple's two cars.
For Levine, who is renting an apartment in Lynn's
Diamond District, Derby Street is closer to his job in
Beverly and a short walk to restaurants and shops
downtown. After living in apartments in Boston's Back
Bay for years, it was important for him to be in an
urban environment. "It's just an awesome location," he
said. "I wanted to be downtown. It's somewhat of an
urban setting. It's not Boston, but there are plenty of
restaurants, stores, whatever you need."
Rich and Andreia Weddle, The Distillery
Rich and Andreia Weddle of Salem were looking at a
new home in Beverly, near Montserrat College of Art, at
the same time they were considering a new condo in The
The Beverly home came with a yard, flower beds and a
garage. It cost $579,000. The quiet condo overlooking
Washington Street in downtown Salem was $580,000. They
chose the condo.
"It has historic charm," said Rich, an auditor for
Northeastern University in Boston. "At the same time,
all new appliances and woodworking," said Andreia, who
moved to Salem from Romania to attend Salem State
College. "My husband likes everything new." The couple
moved in Jan. 4. They wanted to live downtown, but
Boston was too pricey and seemed too overwhelming.
Rich takes the train to work every morning — and
likes that he can take either the Rockport or
Newburyport line to get home to Salem each night.
Andreia walks next door to their condo to work at
Eastern Bank, where she is a teller.
Their two-story condo has 14-foot ceilings and the
original red-brick wall of its previous life as a
nightclub. Workers installing a cable television
connection said the kitchen is just where the bar used
to be, Andreia said. The first floor is surrounded by
At first, Andreia worried she would miss the garden
in their old condo on Pickman Street. But the brightness
of her home and the flowering trees outside her window
make up for it. "It's just so beautiful," she said. On
the second floor, there is a guest bedroom and study,
both with the original pine floorboards and skylights,
and an attic. Tapestries from the couple's trip to China
hang on the walls.
The couple rarely drive anywhere. They store their
car in the municipal parking garage.
Averil Svahn, Town House Square
Averil Svahn was one of the first to ride the city's
wave of new condos. She moved into the Town House Square
development next to City Hall two years ago. From her
third-floor home, she has a bird's-eye view of the
mayor's office. She moved to Salem after spending eight
years working for Fidelity Investments in northern
Kentucky, just outside of Cincinnati.
Originally from Winchester, Svahn, 41, wanted to move
closer to home and be in a more urban environment.
Boston was too expensive. She paid $270,000 for her
condo here. The complex retains some of the original
doors and windows it had as an office building. Svahn's
bedroom door has a brass mail slot.
Starting three weeks ago, she began taking the 7:03
a.m. train to work. Before, she was driving to the
Fidelity office in Marlborough — 104 miles a day round
trip, she said Even with the commute, she likes living
in downtown Salem. Her friends from Brookline and Boston
often visit to go out to eat or to museums. "I wanted to
be in a city, where I could walk out my door in the
morning and get a cup of coffee," Svahn said. "Or go to
the movies or eat out."
Jessica Shulman, Derby Lofts
Jessica Shulman, 31, and her fiancé, Mark McGettrick,
30, have decided to make Salem their home. They plan to
move from their condo across town to one of the Derby
Lofts in August.
Shulman, who grew up in Framingham, is a middle
school teacher in Newton. McGettrick, who is originally
from Vermont, works as a software engineer in Cambridge.
"About a year ago, we started talking about where we
would live next," Shulman said. "We both liked Salem,
but we didn't know if there was a place that fit what we
wanted. Mark wanted a city feel, and I wanted a suburb
When they saw advertisements for Derby Lofts, they
thought it was "a real find," Shulman said. They liked
the mix of new construction with original steel beams
and exposed brick. "We liked the feeling of being
downtown in the middle of everything, with great
restaurants," Shulman said. "We always feel like
something's going on, but we'll also be close to the
ocean and suburbs. It really worked out well." "Salem
has really become our spot," she said.
The couple doesn't mind that parking has not yet been
determined for the lofts. They will likely have space in
the South Harbor Garage near Salem Beer Works. Both
drive to work: Shulman before rush hour hits and
McGettrick after the initial rush.
The average cost of one of the lofts is $400,000.
"Pricing for what you're getting is reasonable,"
Shulman said. "Everything's brand-new, and the space is
gorgeous. Our view is of the main square."
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New Development Captures Market