Building C at 102 Bayberry Avenue. [2011, Dunlap]
Cape Tip Condominium | Building C, 102 Bayberry Avenue (Units 13-21). A sawtooth pattern on the skyline, the jutting, angular rooftop bulkheads of the three-building Cape Tip Condominium in Meadowview Heights are recognizable from around town.
And like those jagged switchbacks, the story of Cape Tip takes innumerable dramatic turns. To call it Byzantine might libel Byzantium. The docket sheet from Massachusetts Land Court goes on for page after page after page, with private liens, municipal liens, tax takings, bankruptcy court orders, foreclosures, subordinations, attachments, and amendments.
What the public records reveal is a constantly changing cast of characters, including a prolonged cameo appearance by the future chief executive of Aetna, Richard L. Huber.
What they do not reveal is which players and which events were the most critical. One day, I hope to write a far more comprehensive account of the condo’s ups and downs. For now, here’s what I know:
For $375,000, Matthew J. Costa acquired the sprawling Meadowview Heights parcel on 15 April 1983 from a group of grantors including members of the McGowan family. That day, Costa created the Meadowview Heights Trust, with himself as the sole trustee, for the purpose of holding title to the property. He filed maps in late 1983 showing the exact dimensions and locations of the 74 lots composing the subdivision.
The two parcels on the rotary at one end of Bayberry Avenue were designated No. 33 (100 Bayberry) and No. 34 (102 Bayberry). Additionally, a 40-foot easement was shown through Lot 45 that would connect the development to Blueberry Avenue. Lots 33 and 34 were exempted from the restrictive covenant — also promulgated by Costa — that only one single-family home could be constructed on each Meadowview Heights parcel.
The nine connected units of Building C are highlighted in this aerial view of the Bayberry Avenue rotary. [2010, Dunlap]
Building C occupies Lot 34 of the subdivision plan.
Time passed. Lots of time. Finally, in March 1986, Daryl A. Doyle-Garfield of Watertown and Edward L. Wells Jr. of Cataumet filed papers of incorporation for M.D. Development Inc. The corporation was headquartered at Doyle-Garfield’s house. I believe “M.D.” stood for Michael and Doyle, as Daryl’s husband, Michael H. Garfield, joined her in the creation one month later of the Cape Tip Condominium Trust. Costa sold Lots 33 and 34 to M.D. Development for $873,000 on 2 March 1987.
Trouble was already brewing. In June, Dale Tamburro and others filed a civil action against Garfield, Doyle-Garfield, and their related companies in the United States District Court. By December, the plaintiffs had obtained a $1.5 million writ of attachment. I can only infer that Garfield and Doyle-Garfield were replaced as developers, because on 1 September 1987, Paul Noce of Peabody and Leon Aronson of Quincy incorporated as Cape Tip Development Inc., with a place of business in Aronson’s law office.
Eight days after its incorporation, on 9 September 1987, Cape Tip Development secured a $3.708 million mortgage from the 132-year-old Vanguard Savings Bank of Holyoke, “the darling of investors and a friend to developers,” Mitchell Zuckoff wrote in The Boston Globe.
On the world stage, all hell then broke loose. At the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, 19 October 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 508 points, the largest ever one-day drop by percentage value. The aftershocks from Black Monday presumably explain the further delay in development on Bayberry Avenue. It was not until March 1990 that a master deed was drawn up for the “Cape Tip Condominium,” this time over the signature of Aronson, as president and treasurer of Cape Tip Development. (I don’t know where the name “Cape Tip Estates” came from.)
The master deed included floor plans of two buildings on Lot 33. Building A, with seven units, took the form of a stepped and very shallow V. Building B, with five units, took the form of a stepped parallelogram. Each attached unit had five floors above a basement-level garage, culminating in a roof deck of about 275 square feet, reached through a high-peaked bulkhead that gave the buildings their distinctive profile.
Looking up Nickerson Street to 102 Bayberry. [2012, Dunlap]
The cast of characters changed dramatically in 1991. On Tuesday, 29 January, Aronson sold Units 3, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 on Lot 33 and, even more importantly, the nine-unit development rights at Lot 34. The buyers were Robert T. Abi-Saad and Michele L. Abi-Saad of Brockton. They paid $1.53 million. On the same day, Aronson conveyed the remaining six units (1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7) to the attorney Lester J. Murphy Jr. for $1 each. The following Friday, Aronson resigned as the trustee of the Cape Tip Condominium Trust, Robert Abi-Saad replaced Aronson, and Murphy reconveyed the six units to Cape Tip Development Inc.
Anyone hoping that 1991 or 1992 would be the turnaround years for the project was sorely disappointed, however. Not a single unit was sold. Instead, unpaid contractors’ bills and real-estate taxes piled up.
To make a bad situation worse, the Vanguard Savings Bank failed on 27 March 1992, “driven to insolvency by bad real estate loans,” The Globe said. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was left to take over and liquidate some $400 million in assets, including Cape Tip.
The center of gravity then moved 1,000 miles west, to the Loop in Chicago; specifically, to the headquarters of the Continental Banking Corporation at 231 South LaSalle Street. On 7 June 1993, Continental’s vice chairman, Richard L. Huber, established the 100 Bayberry Avenue Realty Trust.
Huber is as fascinating a character as he is incongruous in Meadowview Heights. Born in 1936, he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Harvard and served in the Coast Guard. “Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, he served as Bank of Boston’s man in Brazil during the late 1960s and as Citibank’s chief in Japan in the late 1970s,” Tim Smart wrote in The Washington Post on 11 December 1998.
His corporate résumé was impressive. He helped arrange the merger of Continental into the Bank of America, then jumped in 1994 to the investment bank Wasserstein Perella & Company. Five months later, while selling condo units in the Cape Tip project, Huber was named vice chairman of the Aetna Life & Casualty Company, the nation’s third largest insurer at the time. He took over the company two years later.
Huber’s non-corporate résumé was even more intriguing. He owned a restaurant and singles bar in São Paulo, Brazil. He was part owner of a 7,000-acre ranch in the Brazilian state of Acre. (Equal to 140 Boston Commons.) He was an investor in a Paraguayan soybean farm, and a director of a Brazilian residential housing development company, a Chilean shipping company, and two Chilean wine producers. He and his wife, Roberta, collected Latin American art of the 17th and 18th centuries. When he headed Aetna, he declared his commitment to improving Hartford by living in a struggling neighborhood near downtown — “around the corner from a methadone clinic, a couple of blocks from homeless shelters, down the street from a crime-ridden housing project and miles from the lush suburbs where most of the city’s business elite have settled,” Jonathan Rabinovitz wrote in The New York Times of 27 August 1997.
I don’t know yet what brought Huber to Provincetown, but from the evidence at Land Court, it seems as if he and the F.D.I.C. saved the Cape Tip project. On the same day that the 100 Bayberry Realty Trust was formed, it paid $400,000 to the F.D.I.C. for Units 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7.
Building C is at left. [2008, Dunlap]
Unit 2 in Building A was the first Cape Tip house that Huber sold, on 8 October 1993, to Virginia S. Smith of Ann Arbor, Mich., for $165,000.
Ten days later, Robert Abi-Saad filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code. He owed $2.995 million on the Vanguard mortgage, now held by the F.D.I.C.; $70,000 in real-estate taxes; $210,000 to the Granite Avenue construction company; $22,000 to Glynn Electric; and $1,768 to Brennick Construction.
The Abi-Saads sold Units 3 and 12, and the rights to Lot 34, to Huber in April 1994 for $875,000. Three months later, declaring that H&R had breached the mortgage for Units 8, 9, 10, and 11, an attorney for the F.D.I.C. made an “open, peaceable, and unopposed entry” in order to foreclose.
Huber’s first sale in Building C was to Normand J. Bonsant and Tyler W. Pratt of Haverhill. They paid $150,000 for Unit 15 on 16 January 1995. (By now, the 100 Bayberry Avenue Realty Trust was based at 31 West 52nd Street in Manhattan; the offices of Wasserstein Perella.)
Huber’s first sale in Building B was to Robert M. Adamcik of Provincetown, who paid $152,500 for Unit 12 on 6 September 1995. (And now, the 100 Bayberry Avenue Realty Trust was based at 151 Farmington Avenue in Hartford. That would be Aetna headquarters.)
By June 1996, all 21 units were sold. In the most recent sale at the time of this writing, Unit 13 in Building C sold for $997,500 in June 2021.
102 Bayberry Avenue on the Town Map, showing property lines.
Also at this address
• Building A.
• Building B.
¶ Last updated on 4 February 2022.