Sandwich Set To Put Town-Owned Commercial Acres Up For Sale Again
By: Mary Stanley
When it comes to selling the town’s 55 acres of commercial land in South Sandwich, town officials are hoping that the third time is the charm.
The town is set to put the undeveloped acres on the market again. This will be the third time they have attempted a sale.
Formerly known as the Golden Triangle, the commercial property stretches from the corner of Route 130 and Quaker Meetinghouse Road down to the corner of Route 130 and Cotuit Road and is now referred to as South Sandwich Village Center.
Town Manager George H. Dunham announced that the town has issued a request to developers, seeking their input and advice on the land. The town wants to know what the development community would do with the land, whether there is an interest in purchasing the entire parcel or just a part of it, as well as other general comments.
“Anything they tell us will help guide us in writing the formal Request for Proposals,” he said.
“It will give us a better handle on what developers want to do with the land,” said Chairman of the board of selectmen, John G. Kennan Jr.
Though the town had been waiting on a $50,000 grant from the state to pay for a consultant to look at the land and offer suggestions for writing a Request for Proposal, that plan was scrapped.
Mr. Kennan, who is also president of the Sandwich Economic Initiative Corporation’s (SEIC) board of directors, said a decision was made to use the consultant hired by the SEIC, Sebastian A. Amenta, to assist Mr. Dunham and Assistant Town Manager Douglas A. Lapp in writing this initial request to developers.
“It was a team effort. There is a lot of work that goes into this,” said Mr. Kennan.
With the deadline for responding to this initial request for interest set for June 15, Mr. Kennan said he anticipates issuing a formal request for proposals sometime in the summer or early fall.
This will mark the third time the town has put this land, which represents the single largest commercial property in town, up for sale.
The first time the property was put up for bids, the town threw out all of the proposals received and re-issued a second RFP in 2005. After reviewing those proposals, the town selected Meetinghouse Development Group as the winning bidder with its $6 million offer that called for a mixed-use development that included a minimum of 120,000 square feet up to 200,000 square feet of commercial property developed on 18 of the 50-plus acres. The plan also called for a mix of residential and commercial facilities, including 160 housing units with 78 of those units targeted at an age 55-and-older population. Fifty of those units were to be a Wise Living Facility for seniors and independent seniors.
But after four years of trying to hammer out a land sale agreement, in 2009, the deal was abandoned. At that time, the economy was in a recession, and real estate values had taken a free fall.
But this time, town officials said, things will be different.
For the past three years, town officials have been working to address several issues—including some zoning changes and the completion of the town Local Comprehensive Plan, which spells out the type of development that will be allowed in that area— in an effort to make the property more attractive to potential buyers.
“The permitting should be easier, and the zoning is in line with what developers want. We have completed the local comprehensive plan and we have had good advice from the staff at the Cape Cod Commission to help guide us. The Cape Cod Commission is talking with us about having a team assigned to Sandwich and sending planning staff to help towns with technical issues,” said Mr. Dunham.
Earlier this month, Town Meeting voted to include seven acres of land currently used by the town’s Pop Warner football organization, which is located inside the overall larger parcel in the sale of the commercial property.
Local developer Thomas Tsakalos who owns Heritage Park, Canterbury Plaza and Trade Winds Plaza as well as 25 acres of undeveloped land next to the town’s 55 acres, has also offered his assistance with increasing the value of the property.
Last year, he proposed constructing an interior road that will run the entire length of the property from Quaker Meetinghouse Road down to the corner of Cotuit Road and Route 130. He has also proposed putting in wastewater infrastructure that other property owners in that development can tie into. Last fall, Town Meeting granted the board of selectmen the authority to convey an easement so that this work can be done.
Though Mr. Tsakalos did not submit a proposal the previous two times that the property was put up for sale, town officials believe he may do so this time around.
“I would assume he will submit a proposal,” Mr. Dunham said.