The Cape Pond Ice property looks out onto Gloucester Harbor in two directions, affording owner Scott Memhard a panoramic view of the melting away of the Gloucester commercial fishing fleet during the past decade.
Still, beyond the erosion of the city’s seminal industry, Memhard also sees the opportunity to recast his property into something more sustainable as the city and its shoreside marine businesses strive to transform the waterfront.
For now, that opportunity is unrealized. Perhaps even more sobering, it is unreachable given the restrictions of the state’s Designated Port Area on allowed business uses along Gloucester’s waterfront.
So Memhard has become the first Gloucester business owner to formally request his property be removed from the mile-long DPA that begins at his 104-106A Commercial St. property in the city’s Fort neighborhood before snaking around the inner harbor.
Memhard is scheduled to meet next week with Mayor Carolyn Kirk and other city officials, as well as state Sen. Bruce Tarr, to make his pitch in person and determine what the subsequent steps toward removal would involve.
“I’m trying to list the real estate for sale to try to interest someone into better utilizing this real estate,” Memhard said Thursday. “Right now, I’m only occupying maybe a third of it. I’ve shown it to a dozen qualified investors and property developers. The DPA designation scares them off.”
Tarr said Thursday he is sympathetic to Memhard’s predicament and will be looking for guidance from city officials whether the proper course of action is through the ongoing review or by statute.
Tarr was asked if he would be willing to file a bill on Memhard’s behalf to remove the property from the DPA.
“It depends on the desire of the community,” he said. “This doesn’t just affect Scott. I’m looking for guidance from the city and municipal government and whether they believe we should do this one property at a time or we should be looking at several properties.”
Memhard knows he is sailing into uncharted waters and offers only a verbal shrug when asked about his chances of succeeding.