Shopping Center Owners Refuse to Meet With Selectmen
Property owners of two neighborhood shopping centers again rejected requests by the town to meet and discuss reviving the retail spaces.
Selectmen again publicly implored the owners of two distressed shopping centers in Framingham to meet and discuss what plans they have for the future of the neighborhood focal points.
But the owners of the Nobscot Shopping Center on Water Street and the Mount Wayte Shopping Plaza on Franklin Street have indicated, through their agents, they have no desire or motivation to meet with town representatives, in a public forum.
Alison Steinfeld, director of Framingham’s Community and Economic Development department, contacted both owners and reported to the Selectmen at their meeting this week.
“The Mount Wayte owner has moved to Florida,” she told Selectmen. “They say they maintain the property and they pay taxes and they don’t see a reason to appear before the board. They say they do have a new leasing agent, who is aggressively marketing the plaza.”
Steinfeld went on to say the corporation that owns the Nobscot shopping center also contends they maintain the property, have done some landscaping work and cooperated with the town, when the town-wide sewer project tore up Water Street and adjacent roads.
“They said they are only concerned with a grocery store and CVS,” said Steinfeld, a reference to the former Star Market, which has been empty for more than seven years and the shopping center’s largest tenant, CVS.
“We have watched the decline of the shopping centers for more than a decade,” said Selectman Dennis Giombetti. “I just want them to tell us their story. The status quo of steady decline is unacceptable. We want positive action.
“At the end of the day, the landowners have the final say on their properties. But they are not willing to entertain any ideas.”
At a previous meeting, Giombetti made the point that if the owners refused to meet with the town and they showed no motivation to improve their properties then the town needs to have a discussion on possibly taking control of the properties.
“I brought up eminent domain as something that we may have to discuss,” said Giombetti. “Eminent domain would be a last resort. But we are at a point of desperation and until we get a commitment from them we are just spinning our wheels.”
“Threatening them with eminent domain is not the answer,” Selectmen Charles Sisitsky said. “We have to convince the landlords that we are serious about development. We have to work with the owners, give them new ideas, and present certain tax advantages. We have to gain their confidence.”
Chair Jason Smith directed Framingham’s Economic Development and Industrial Corporation to work with Community and Economic Development, other town departments that would have a stake in development of the plazas and local developers to come up with ideas and concepts that would revitalize the two shopping centers. Steinfeld was asked to give a progress report to Selectmen on Nov. 15.