Two neglected and mostly empty shopping centers in town drew the attention of the Framingham Board of Selectmen last night as Selectmen agreed to invite the owners of the shopping centers to meet and discuss what the future holds for the neighborhood centers.
Selectman Dennis Giombetti strongly called for the owners of the Mount Wayte Shopping Center on Franklin Street and the Nobscot Shopping Center on Water Street to come before the board and give an account of what they plan to do to freshen up the sites.
“It’s a disgrace,” said Giombetti. “We’re talking about blighted, undeveloped properties that are extremely important for the vitality of the neighborhoods.”
The shopping centers suffer from decades of neglect and each has more empty stores than occupied space.
Selectmen and neighborhood groups have failed in many attempts over the years to make headway with the property owners to refurbish or beautify the shopping centers.
“Since I’ve been on the board, the Nobscot and Mount Wayte shopping centers have been a burning issue,” said Giombetti. “They have thumbed their noses at us for years. It’s time something is done.”
If the property owners refuse to come to a meeting, Giombetti is prepared to take the issue to another level.
“I’m more than willing to take aggressive action,” he said. “I’ll recommend we get a group together to see if we can take (the properties) over. Eminent domain is an action of last resort, but it’s time to get serious.”
Selectman Ginger Esty reacted strongly against the prospect of invoking eminent domain, because of the potential of lost tax revenue for the town.
Acting Chair Charlie Sisitsky reminded the board that the motion on the floor was to invite the two property owners to a meeting and called for a vote.
Selectmen unanimously voiced their approval that a meeting with the property owners or their representatives be established in late September.
“We want them to work with us,” said Giombetti. “This (the meeting) is step one. We first invite them in. If they refuse (to meet) then we can look at step number two.”