Jim Mullen, who owns the 50-acre estate at 36 Essex St. in Wenham,
said on Tuesday afternoon the property is now up for sale or lease. It had served as the headquarters of Mullen's company, Mullen Advertising, until he sold the company and it moved to Boston in 2009.
At one point, redevelopment of the property was estimated to generate as much as $1 million per year in new tax revenue for the town of Wenham.
“I anticipated a wonderful senior independent living project at Penguin Hall but ultimately two unanticipated circumstances made the original project impossible to realize.” Mullen said in his announcement. “Many of the younger depositors attracted to the lifestyle benefits decided it was too early for them to commit, and banks simply aren’t funding suburban for sale condominium construction.”
Mullen said his pursuit of the project actually ended on May 31 but for the past four months he allowed Chris Wise and Wise Living – Mullen's partner on the proposed project – to work on a new plan that would have included assisted living and Alzheimer’s units.
That plan has also been abandoned after encountering “terminal headwinds,” Mullen said.
The project, as of late 2012, called for a two-phase project that would have started with 192 units in phase 1 - all of the main building, Penguin Hall – and a Phase 2 with the construction of detached manor homes.
At one point, 40 or more people had paid a $1,000 deposit for a unit. On Tuesday, Mullen said everyone all of his bills are paid.
“I conclude this project with appreciation for the many friends I met through the process, the superb support of the Wenham town officials, all bills paid and my head held high.” said Mullen. “I also leave with a great deal of sadness.”