TRURO — Earlier than Covid-19, summer time evenings at 104 Shore Street hummed with restaurant-goers at Terra Luna, and, later within the night time, seasonal employees would return to the clapboard cottages on that very same property. Formally, this row of housing items goes by the identify Prince of Whales. However the employees who lived there summer time after summer time nicknamed it “Little Jamaica,” recalled Janet “Large Mama” Hewitt.
Hewitt left Jamaica in 2001 and lived on the Prince of Whales for 16 or so years. She’d spend her days sweeping flooring and scrubbing dishes at Provincetown’s Publish Workplace Cafe and Tin Pan Alley. After clocking out, she’d head again to North Truro, pull out a chair, and sit underneath the celebrities, taking pictures the breeze along with her neighbors. They’d usually cook dinner collectively and chat whereas doing a great deal of laundry exterior. They’d play music on individuals’s birthdays.
“It jogged my memory of Jamaica,” Hewitt stated. “God, I miss it a lot.”
For the previous two years, the Prince of Whales has been vacant — a ghost city in contrast to these vigorous Little Jamaica days. Mattresses at the moment are scattered concerning the lot, mendacity flat on the bottom and slumped in opposition to cottage partitions.
The cottage colony is scheduled for a makeover quickly. On Dec. 20, 2021, the Lexvest Group, an actual property improvement and funding firm based mostly in Maynard, bought 104 Shore Street from Fred Sateriale for $1,375,000. Lexvest has renovated different cottage colonies up and down Shore Street, changing them into condominiums, together with these at East Harbour, the Shoreline, and Sutton Place. The corporate additionally runs the Cape Colony Inn and Breakwater Resort in Provincetown.
The 26 items within the Prince of Whales’s 17 cottages and two bigger buildings could have certainly one of three makes use of: housing for Lexvest’s personal workers, housing for others’ workers, and leases for vacationers. How these items will likely be divvied up amongst these classes has not but been decided, stated Eric Shapiro, Lexvest’s chief govt officer.
“Our foremost aim is to present housing for the workforce that we’d like to function our enterprise, and if we are able to present housing for others, we’ll do this,” Shapiro stated. “But it surely’s a balancing act as a result of Fred, as any proprietor does, had a monetary quantity that he wanted to obtain so as to promote this property. And so as to make that work, it’s a steadiness of offering workforce housing and a few trip leases.”
Shapiro stated he had not found out the utmost potential occupancy but, however “the final rule of thumb,” he stated, “is 2 individuals per bed room.”
Shapiro’s Provincetown and Truro roots date again to his grandfather, who fished right here within the Nineteen Thirties and Nineteen Forties and finally moved his household to the Cape. Shapiro summered right here along with his kids.
For years, he resisted going into actual property on the Outer Cape. “I used to be making an attempt to keep away from it as a result of it was a spot the place I got here to chill out and never work,” he stated. “However usually I felt like a health care provider driving by a bleeding affected person. I felt like I had the instruments and the flexibility to enhance the neighborhood and group.”
The Prince of Whales, he stated, has an up-to-code septic system. The property’s electrical system is “in fairly good condition,” Shapiro stated. Subsequent up for Lexvest is working via a pile of “deferred upkeep” to-dos: cleansing up a good quantity of rot, changing damaged home windows, fixing roofs, and “beefing up” some structural elements.
His aim is to have items accessible for the 2022 season, when Lexvest employs up to 50 individuals to function the corporate’s greater than 100 lodge rooms and 30 rental properties. “These individuals want a spot to stay that’s inexpensive,” Shapiro stated. “And sadly, the world doesn’t have many choices, so we’re making an attempt to handle and take care of that ourselves.”
Lexvest, up to now, has put aside a few of its housing inventory — “at fairly a price,” Shapiro added — for its personal employees. These embody areas within the firm’s inns and leases.
“That’s why we determined to buy the Prince of Whales,” he stated. “There are 26 items that may enable us to management our future with respect to workforce housing. We’re not planning on tearing down items to construct luxurious items.”
Terra Luna, in the meantime, will “proceed to function,” Shapiro stated. “No modifications anticipated.”
An Ode to ‘Little Jamaica’
Sateriale took over the 104 Shore Street property in 1986, simply because the H-2B visa program started. The identical 12 months, state Sen. Julian Cyr’s mother and father moved their restaurant Adrian’s to the place Terra Luna is right this moment. They operated it till 1992.
“The primary H-2B visa workers who labored in my mother and father’ restaurant truly lived on the Prince of Whales through the summers,” Cyr instructed the Unbiased.
Hire on the Prince of Whales, Hewitt recalled, was initially $60 per week, however Sateriale gave tenants leeway if cash was tight, notably within the springtime when companies have been revving again up. “No rush,” Hewitt remembered him telling her neighbors. “When you have got the cash, you may pay me first month’s hire.”
Sateriale, who offered the Breakwater Resort to Shapiro, declined to remark for this text.
Finally, because the repairs and upkeep on the property started to mount, Sateriale wanted to bump up the hire to $100 per week. “However we had no downside with that,” Hewitt stated. “He took excellent care of us.”
Shapiro declined to present an estimate of month-to-month charges on the Prince of Whales when it’s accessible for occupancy.
Final season, with the cottages closed down, Hewitt went from paying $400 month-to-month in Little Jamaica to $500 month-to-month to sleep on a sofa. At the moment, she’s working in New York Metropolis, however she hopes to circle again to Industrial Road this summer time — if she will discover a place to stay.