Here’s what went on and off the market this week. Thanks to Gail DuBois (email) of William Raveis Real Estate for supplying the town’s new listing information for the week.*
New on the market
- 40 Gilmore Road (map) – 7 room, 4 bed, 2f 0h bath Colonial – $659,900
- 37 Clifford Road (map) – 11 room, 4 bed, 2f 1h bath Colonial, Antique – $1,050,000
- 17 Southville Road (map) – 8 room, 4 bed, 2f 1h bath Colonial – 41 days on the Market, Listed at $799,900
- 9 Darlene Drive (map) – 9 room, 4 bed, 2f 1h bath Colonial – 12 days on the Market, Listed at $1,079,000
- 6 Harris Drive (map) – 9 room, 4 bed, 2f 1h bath Colonial – 20 days on the Market, Listed at $839,000, Sold at $910,000
- 135 Deerfoot Road (map) – 9 room, 4 bed, 3f 1h bath Colonial – 11 days on the Market, Listed at $1,250,000, Sold at $1,338,000
- 19 Orchard Road (map) – 11 room, 4 bed, 4f 1h bath Colonial – 19 days on the Market, Listed at $1,475,000, Sold at $1,575,000
- 2 Lorenzo Drive (map) – 9 room, 4 bed, 4f 0h bath Colonial, Farmhouse – 63 days on the Market, Listed at $1,650,000, Sold at $1,650,000
- 97 Main Street (map) – 12 room, 5 bed, 4f 2h bath Colonial – 10 days on the Market, Listed at $1,850,000, Sold at $1,950,000
*Listings for the week are based on data pulled from MLS on Thursday mornings. Occasionally, that includes “sold” info that isn’t captured by MLS until a week (or more) following the sale.
GOOD CONTAGION IN SOUTHBOROUGH.
This is a story about real estate trends, and increasing property values, exclusively in Southborough. It shows how a good idea can become CONTAGIOUS.
Ten plus years ago, in the depths of the last real estate recession, 2008 – 12, l bumped into Jon Deli Prescoli at Skinners Auctioneers (recently taken over by Bonhams of London) at 274 Cedar Hill Rd in Marlborough ( it’s on the left, as you drive to Algonquin High School).
Two decades earlier, when Jon was a young developer, I had met him in my capacity as City Planner in Marlborough. But I had no idea his interests had evolved into antiques. I asked Jon how life was treating him, and was shocked when he replied that he was “miserable” because he was going through a divorce, had to leave his home in Sudbury, and was looking for a new place to live. I said: “Jon, I have a solution for your misery — but only if you are prepared to act fast … ”
“It is this … Leave here right NOW, TODAY, get in your car and drive 5 miles east, along Main St in Southborough … until you reach Deerfoot road. There you will see, on your right, a magnificent old mansion that needs your money and your antiques. By sheer luck, this is the perfect time for you to buy it, because the “one-year option” has just expired. It is held by Bob Moss, (owner of Madison Place, the Rt 9 housing complex). The recession is deep, housing prices have crashed, interest rates are high, and there are no buyers.”
So off Jon went, to Southborough.
One week later, Jon called me and said “Thanks to you, David, I am now the proud owner of the Garfield House, but I don’t know what to do with it.” … And thus commenced the multi-year efforts by the town (principally the Southborough school students) to generate support to SAVE THE MANSION FROM DEMOLITION. By luck, all the school busses drive by the Garfield mansion and this gave daily impetus to the student, who eventually persuaded the Select Board to take action, ultimately leading to the ZBA granting variances allowing 10 luxury bed and breakfast suites, and Town Meeting voting to give $1,000,000 to the owner (Jon Deli Prescoli) in return for Historic Preservation Easements on the exterior appearance of the mansion and its grounds. These easements will last forever, running with the property, and being transferred automatically to future owners.
(That whole enterprise was an incredible feat, in retrospect. This is the point where I should credit lots of people, but I don’t have the space or the knowledge. I will simply say that the students and ONE of many key adult players was Michael Weishan, Chairperson of the Historical Commission, who worked cooperatively with Jon.)
A crucial part of the “package” was the requirement that the owner, Jon Deli Prescoli, had to delete the four additional houses which were originally planned (by Bob Moss) to surround the mansion. Each house was to be on its own, one acre lot, with the mansion on its own acre as well. (There being a total of 5 acres.)
Everone who drives by can see the huge investment Jon has made to the exterior. But few know the even greater investment he has made to the INTERIOR. I learned this myself one day, a year ago, when I visited the mansion during construction. An elderly, italian, “decorative plasterer” named Eduardo (from Marlborough) was plastering the ceiling of the “banqueting hall”. (It’s much too grand to be called a dining room.) It looked like the Papal palace in Rome. I asked Eduardo how he knew which decorative moulds to use, and what instructions Jon had given him. “No instructions whatsoever”, Eduardo said. “Jon said I was to use all my skills and imagine I was working for the Pope.”
Then Eduardo said he felt rather sad. “Why?” I asked. “Because when Jon holds a banquet in a year’s time, all the guests will think this ceiling is so grand it must be “historic”, and it must have been here for at least a century. They won’t know it was me who created it, just this year. … ”
“Don”t worry, Eduardo,” I said. “I’ll ask Jon to order a brass plaque with your name on it … just like the Pope was proud of being a patron of Michelengelo, and made sure his name was prominently displayed.
Then Eduardo told me to walk outside, because he had something really important to show me.
“Look north, across Main St”, he said. “See that huge mansion at # 1 Sears Rd? Well, until recently, that mansion was also going to be surrounded by four other houses, each on its own one acre lot — just like Jon’s house. But whoever owns that house has learned an important lesson from Jon … that you can make a much better visual impression (and possibly an equal profit), if you ENHANCE the original mansion on a large lot, instead of crowding it in with additional houses on smaller lots. Jon’s influence is CONTAGEOUS”, Eduardo said.
“Yes, you are right”, I replied. “Do you happen to know who has been “positively infected” and who owns the 1 Sears Rd mansion ?” …..
“No, I don’t know,” Eduardo replied.
In the next half hour, quite by chance, I had nothing else to do … and so I decided to drive to Brendon Giblin”s office which is nearby, on Turnpike Rd, to drop in for a chat. I began explaining to Brendon the CONTAGION happening around Jon Deli Prescoli’s mansion. Brendon smiled and raised his hand to motion me to stop talking.
“Stop”, he said.
“Why?” I asked. “Is something wrong?”.
“”No nothing’s wrong at all,” Brendon said. ” Quite the opposite. Because I am the person who has caught the contagion. I bought # 1 Sears Rd. I have cancelled the four extra houses, and I am going to enhance the mansion. I am the one doing what you are talking about, and I am going to live there myself !”
I’m confused by your narrative and timeline for the 84 Main Street purchase. The property was put up for auction in 2010. My understanding was that the property had been owned by Elinor Garfield who died in 2009, and it was her estate that was seeking to sell the property. The auction was unsuccessful and the house remained on the market until Jon Delli Priscoli bought it in 2012. Then in 2014, Delli Priscoli contacted Robert Moss to see if he was interested in buying it. Moss sought an ANR to tear down the big house and split the property into four lots. There was a public protest with media coverage. Delli Priscoli was able to get out of the sale. He then began negotiations with the Town on plans for preserving the home – culminating in the Town’s purchase of a Conservation Restriction authorized by Town Meeting in 2016.
Bob Moss was the developer who determined that the Garfield mansion wasn’t “econimically” worth saving –and therefore it should be demolished. Moss got a one year option and planned to divide the 5 acre property into 5 one acre lots with a new house on each lot. One house was to be in the renovated Carrriage House.
Thankfully, Jon Delli Prescoli disagreed with Moss, and wanted to save the mansion it possible. But initially Jon didn’t know HOW to save it, and initially he did NOT plan to live in it himself. Hence he needed an interim use which could generate an income, and that use was the 10 luxury bed-&-breakfast suites … (which have now become private bedrooms).
But in recent years, Jon has changed his mind about renting the BnB suites and for very good reasons — because he is now happily married again, and he has two new young children (plus his two older children, in their 20’s and 30’s, one of whom lives in the Carriage House). As a result, Jon has recently decided to use the mansion as his OWN luxurious home. And since he is an antiques dealer, the mansion is now full of his favorite Antiques. What a perfect outcome … but it took ten years and a great deal of his own money. The one million from the Town pales in comparison.
The “beauty” for the Town ( and Jon) — is that this house will ALWAYS be here — essentially for ever — because the restrictive covenants / preservation easements, placed on the exterior only, are effective in perpetuity . What an incredible gift Jon has given to the Town.
(By the way — Town Meeting similarly lnsisted on PERPETUAL covenants to preserve the open space / golf course use, next to the new Public Safety building. This was also deliberate — to protect and forever prevent undesirable development happening on that wonderful scenic landscape. We preserved it FOREVER, as we have the Garfield House.)
Of course, the current owner (Jon Delli Prescoli) can and will (inevitably — eventually) sell it, to new owners, unless Jon puts it in a Trust of some kind. But all new owners MUST maintain the EXTERIOR appearance in exactly the way specified in the covenants / easement restrictions. Although literally ANYTHING (which is allowed by zoning) can still happen on the INTERIOR. … for instance, the present “italyanate” highly decorative design theme could be radically changed into a “futuristic” design theme, only on the inside, because that decision is up to the future owners, their “taste” and their budget.
Brendon Giblin’s lovely mansion at 1 Sears rd is under NO restrictions or Town subsidy. Brendon made a purely economic decision — that this splended arts-and- crafts “Newportesque” mansion is worthy of his private preservation. He is free to do ANYTHING he wants, inside and outside.