SAUGUS, Mass. (AP) — The iconic Route 1 orange dinosaur is on the move.
The prehistoric creature roamed the 1.4-acre parcel of land that formerly housed Route 1 Mini Golf & Batting Cages, and found higher ground about 10 feet behind a newly installed retaining wall.
Developers are converting the property into a $120 million development known as Essex Landing with 250 apartments, two hotels, shops and a parking garage.
“We’re getting a lot of excellent comments on it because people love it on that corner,” said developer Michael Barsamian. “It looks bigger than it did when it was in the lower area.”
The 20-foot structure weighs 6,000 pounds and is nearly six decades old. Barsamian and his partner, Michael Touchette, a contractor, moved the statue themselves using a mini-crane.
TB Holdings Inc., an entity managed by Barsamian and Touchette, bought a vacant 1.2-acre site next to the golf course in 2013 for $3.3 million, and they closed on the 1.4-acre golf parcel in 2016 for $1.4 million.
When New Englanders learned the site they passed traveling up and down the corridor was being sold for redevelopment in 2015, they overwhelmingly demanded the landmark stay put. The pair eventually agreed to purchase the land.
“This is the temporary home,” said Barsamian. “It’s out of the way.”
It has not yet been determined where the dinosaur will permanently reside, but Barsamian said plans include a leisure area with a pitch and putt and outdoor swimming pool.
Using the dinosaur’s fanbase to their advantage, developers created T-shirts featuring the icon and “Saugus-saurus” and sold them for $25 each at Kane’s Donuts on Lincoln Avenue. The effort raised $6,800 in three months that will be donated back to the town, said Barsamian.
“We wanted to do something to give back to the town,” he said. “We’re the first big site that the town approved (under new zoning) and we want to make them feel like they did the right thing.”
Kane’s is planning to open its third location, a 3,500-square-foot cafe with a drive-through, at Essex Landing.
Forty apartment units are currently being built and 48 are expected to be constructed in the next 90 days, said Barsamian. If all goes well residents will be moved in and Kane’s will be open for business by November.