Therapists drop plan to renovate Prospect Street building
NORTHAMPTON – A Florence physical therapist and her husband have scrapped their plan to buy and convert a former restaurant at 285 Prospect St. into a pediatric therapy center.
Diane M. Droescher and her husband Robert R. Myers, whose Advanced Therapeutics Inc. business is located at 60 Maple St. in Florence, said this week they were all set to buy the property, gut it and convert it into medical offices until they encountered problems with a Florida bank that owns the property.
Although the couple filed a preliminary request for permits from the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, Droescher said they reluctantly decided in recent weeks to throw in the towel. She said the reason was that the bank they were dealing with in Florida made unreasonable demands, including a $10,000 deposit. She said the city has also required numerous site improvements, for which she was unable to get a grant to accomplish.
“We were very excited about it,” said Myers. “But it kept going south.”
The parcel is across Prospect Street from the YMCA and next to the Meadowlark Child Care Center, a situation Droescher said seemed like a perfect spot for a physical therapy practice for kids with neurological and orthopedic dysfunction, her specialty.
“I think it would be a great location,” Droescher said. The bank, she said, “was being unreasonable.” Now, she added, the couple is looking for another location to expand their 21-year-old physical therapy business. Droescher and Myers live at 485 Sylvester Road, Florence.
In the initial city application, Droescher asked for a Planning Board site plan special permit and a ZBA finding for pre-existing, non-conforming use to create four medical offices. The property once housed Calvin Ice Cream, Deb’s breakfast restaurant and later CK’s Restaurant; city records show that the late property owner, Earl F. Rolland, lived there for years.
As proposed, Droescher’s plan was to create a one-way entrance on Prospect Street and an exit via the adjacent Murphy Terrace. There was to have been 11 on-site parking spaces and more on-street parking, new granite curbing along Prospect Street, a smaller curb cut, a “green screen” to shield residential neighbors from noise and headlights, and the replacement of some asphalt with trees, grass and shrubs in front.
City Planning Director Wayne M. Feiden said last week those site details were worked out when another application filed for a similar permit, but later walked away from the project.
The application, filed May 28, 2010, stated there were four illegal apartments in the rear of the building, where Droescher said conditions were so bad as to make them almost uninhabitable. The 2006 city census shows that longtime property owner Earl F. Rolland, his son and two other people living there then. Rolland died in 2007, according to state death records.
In 2009, IB Property Holdings LLC, a Delaware-chartered corporation headquartered in Coral Gables, Fla., bought the property for $199,000 at foreclosure auction. At the time of the sale, the owner was the Earl F. Rolland Family Nominee Trust, and the mortgage was held by Bayview Loan Servicing Company, operating from the exact same Coral Gables, Fla. address as IB Property. The city has assessed the land and property at $339,600.