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    Two Brighton homes, listed for $1 apiece but lacking buyers, face demolition

    This and another building at the Brighton Marine Health Center will be demolished if buyers who will move the structures are not found.
    David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
    This and another building at the Brighton Marine Health Center will be demolished if buyers who will move the structures are not found.

    When a pair of Brighton duplexes are listed for sale at just $1 each, they are bound to attract attention.

    But that’s all the properties have managed to attract so far, less than a week before a June 30 sale deadline. If no buyer comes forward by then, the buildings could face the wrecking ball.

    The 77-year-old buildings, the former quarters of military officers and doctors on the grounds of the Brighton Marine Health Center, were scheduled to be demolished to make way for a six-story, 102-unit affordable housing development for veterans and their families on the center’s campus along Commonwealth Avenue. But under pressure from the Massachusetts Historical Commission and its overseer — lifelong Brighton resident and Secretary of State William F. Galvin — the Brighton Marine Health Center and the developer, WinnCompanies, agreed to put the buildings on the market for 120 days.


    Now, time is running out, and health center officials say they aren’t anticipating any offers before the deadline. That’s because the $1 sale price is hardly the only cost involved: A buyer would have to foot most of the bill to relocate the two-story brick buildings.

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    Winn has agreed to contribute $34,000 to relocate each building — the equivalent of the cost to demolish them. But that wouldn’t come close to covering the $300,000 to $400,000 it could cost to move each building, never mind the expenses associated with clearing even a quarter-mile path marked by obstacles such as power lines and traffic signals, said Ben Brovont, an estimator at Pennsylvania-based Wolfe House & Building Movers. His company has done work in the area, and it has received about a dozen calls about the Brighton buildings, he said.

    “The reason nobody’s bought them is they’re going to be extremely difficult to move,” Brovont said.

    Only seven people have shown up at four open houses the health center has held over the past four months, said spokeswoman Karen Schwartzman.

    “We’ve been marketing these properties for more than 100 days and there has not been significant interest,” Schwartzman said. “There hasn’t been a serious overture and there hasn’t been a single offer. I think we’re waiting out the clock.”


    Galvin said he is still “trying to get the word out there” and has been in contact with Allston and Brighton nonprofit groups that are interested in buying the buildings, but haven’t been able to find land in the neighborhood to relocate them — or the money to move the structures.

    “I’m very conscious of the fact, because of the extraordinary rise of real estate prices in the Allston-Brighton area, land prices are just astronomical,” Galvin said. “It defies reality. As a result, I’m cognizant how difficult it is. On the other hand, it makes the value of what’s being offered here pretty exceptional, too.”

    If the buildings are razed, it will be a dramatic conclusion for the $41 million affordable housing project’s protracted three-year journey. At one point, Galvin threatened to oppose federal and state funding for the development if a compromise to preserve the buildings wasn’t reached.

    Of the four 77-year-old buildings on the nearly nine-acre site, Winn originally planned to keep and relocate one to another part of the campus and tear down the other three.

    Under an agreement reached last summer with state preservation officials, two buildings were to remain and the other two put up for sale for $1 each.


    Even if no buyers come forward by June 30, the buildings are not likely to be demolished before the fall, when Winn expects to secure final financing for the project, Schwartzman said. In the meantime, if someone makes an offer after the deadline, Schwartzman said, Brighton Marine and Winn would entertain it. But one way or another, she said, the buildings have to go.

    Katheleen Conti can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKConti.