After Land Court tangle, developer gets control of dilapidated Edgewood Ave. property in North Adams

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NORTH ADAMS — Karen Ferrara's nightmare should soon be over.

After complex legal proceedings in land court, developer Benjamin Svenson has won the deed to the dilapidated home at 45 Edgewood Ave., which Ferrara has spent years fighting to have the city demolish.

Ferrara has told mayors, city councilors, newspaper reporters — anyone who will listen — about the increase in rodents since the home adjacent to her own was abandoned, about the shingles that have flown off its roof and damaged her car, and the foundation that has crumbled.

"It's just all open, the back foundation. Any human being can walk into the back of the house. I just hope they get up here within a reasonable amount of time," said Ferrara.

After the Land Court proceedings wrapped up in May, Svenson said it took a few weeks to obtain property insurance — a necessity before crews work on securing the home in the coming days.

Now, the property is the latest addition to a growing list of properties on Edgewood Avenue and elsewhere in the Blackinton neighborhood that Svenson — the lead developer of the nearby Tourists hotel — has invested in.

"Hopefully it's the beginning of a new chapter," Svenson said.

Svenson said he is not yet ready to announce plans for the property.

In the meantime, he has contracted with Moresi and Associates to secure the house and maintain the property in the near term.

The home has languished for more than two decades after its previous owners died. It was declared a public nuisance by the City Council in May 2017, clearing the way for its demolition. But the bulldozer never came.

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Due to Svenson's interested in purchasing it, Mayor Thomas Bernard put a hold on the demolition of 45 Edgewood Ave. in January 2018. Bernard gave Svenson a deadline of about six to eight months to acquire the property, but extended it when a new plan was hatched.

In June 2018, the city's real estate attorney informed officials that the city could sell its tax lien on the property, which Svenson later bought at auction for $22,730.

From there, it was Svenson — not the city — who could take the lead in attempts to acquire title to the property in Land Court.

Two parties with a potential claim to the property were given until April 1 to step forward, and neither did so.

Though Svenson's Land Court victory comes as a relief, Ferrara hopes to see progress on the property beyond just having it secured.

Ferrara praised City Councilor Marie T. Harpin, who brought the issue back to the City Council's agenda in February and again this week.

"It's great news for everyone around," Harpin said at Tuesday's council meeting.

Svenson now owns a substantial portion of the properties on Edgewood Avenue under various companies, according to records in the Northern Berkshire Registry of Deeds.

Operating as Centerville Sticks LLC, he purchased 37-39 Edgewood Ave. from former owner Robert Foley for $12,500, as well as 33 Edgewood Ave. and 3-7 Edgewood Ave. in 2017.

Svenson bought 19 Edgewood Ave. as Edgewood LLC in 2016.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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