Special Permit Likely to Expire on Forbes Site

As the city looks to implement safety measures at the Forbes site, it is looking unlikely that the 590-unit project permitted for the site will ever become a reality.

In 2019, the Zoning Board approved a 590 residential unit project for the Forbes site, a significantly scaled back version of a plan first introduced by developers, YIHE Forbes of China, in 2015.

“The project remains fully permitted for 590 units,” according to City Manager Thomas Ambrosino. “But, that special permit will expire this year. There is no indication that the developer is planning to move forward with this project.”

Although Ambrosino said city officials have heard that the site is on the market, any potential sale would likely come too late to allow the existing special permit to be salvaged.

“In the meantime, the city will continue to monitor public safety issues on the site,” Ambrosino stated. “We will be out to bid shortly on the public safety improvements recently approved with free cash by the City Council.”

The council approved spending $293,000 in free cash for some limited safety measures to protect any members of the public who might access the Forbes site.

“We are planning on boarding up the windows on the first floor of all three buildings, as well as some areas on the second floors next to features that can be climbed easily,” Alex Train, the city’s director of housing and community development, recently told the council.

There will also be some abatement of lead and asbestos on the site to meet OSHA standards, Train said, as well as the removal of vegetation to make sure there is a clean line of site for surveillance cameras near the property. In addition, repairs to holes in the fencing and the construction of some new fencing around the perimeter is planned.

Ambrosino said steps have been taken that will eventually allow the city to recoup the cost. If the developer does not pay, he said the city can go to land court in order to have the costs added to a future tax bill for the property.

While the city could conceivably take the developer to court and foreclose on the property if the developer doesn’t pay the tax bill, Ambrosino said the odds of that happening are highly unlikely.

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