Growing with the City: Matt and Teresa Skelton choose to redevelop land


By Anna Skinner

For nearly a century, members of Teresa Skelton’s family have owned the little lot on the corner of Hoover and Union streets.

With the development of Grand Junction Plaza and the growth of downtown Westfield, Teresa said she would rather grow with her city and expand upon her lot than move elsewhere.

“Knowing the school was getting built and new sidewalks put in and that Hoover Street was being widened, it seemed to be a really good investment for me, and I got a piece of the property (in 1993),” Teresa said. “It’s always been sort of a plan to do something there, whatever that is, or to have it as a good investment to sell. For the better part of 10 years, Matt (Teresa’s husband and director of the Economic and Community Development Dept.) and I need a new house. It’s really hard to let go of your land once you have it because you get attached to it, and you can’t get land back, so I was really dragging my feet.”

The Skeltons own three parcels, one occupied by them and the other by Betty Otis, Teresa’s mother. They came up with a plan to stay on their land and also get a new home. The pair approached the city and was approved last month to turn the approximately two acres of three parcels into five parcels and rebuild on that land.

“Downtown Westfield is near and dear to our hearts,” Matt said. “We spend a lot of time in it, so it was only natural to us to the extent that was possible to make our little corner more like Grand Junction. The emergence of downtown, the vision and planning, has taken place over the last 20 or 25 years. It has all kind of led us to where we are right now, so I can’t think of a way we can use our property to be more consistent with the vision outlined in the Grand Junction implementation plan.”

Four of the five lots will be for sale for custom homes set between $400,000 and $600,000. The Skeltons will remain on the parcel at the corner of Hoover and Union streets.

“We decided we don’t need that much property to take care of. It’s a lot to take care of,” Teresa said. “As you age, it’s not as much fun to deal with.”

“We have wanted to rebuild on that prop for over 10 years,” Matt added. “We fell in love with the neighborhood and our neighbors. It’s part of us, so to move just seemed like we were never going to be happier anywhere else.”

Embedded in downtown Westfield

After her family owned the property for nearly a century, Teresa Skelton moved into her home at the corner of Hoover and Union streets in 1993 and has lived there ever since. She and her husband Matt, director of the Economic and Community Development Dept., have wanted to rebuild on the property for 10 years.

During her lifetime, Teresa has lived in five spots and worked in five spots, all on Union Street.

“I went to kindergarten in what is now city hall,” she said. “It was my parents land where the city market is held.”

Another part of her property near and dear to Teresa is a red oak tree that was planted when she and Matt got married – with the ceremony held on the property where they live. Teresa said the tree would not be harmed with the rebuilding of her and Matt’s home and the custom homes built on the remaining four lots.

“We married on our property, and the same day we planted a red oak tree,” Teresa said. “It was part of the service and is now 25 feet tall. The tree will not go away.”

The Skeltons married in 2001 on the summer solstice.