Selectmen Want Commerical Property Owners To End Blight

Following a presentation from Community and Economic Development Director Alison Steinfield, Selectmen would like to see the Nobscot and Mt. Wayte Avenue shopping centers revitalized.

Although town officials are making headway with the Neighborhood Stablization Program and improving some of the town's homes, Selectmen want to send a strong message to two commercial properties owners who do not appear interested in sprucing up their corners of town.

Following a presentation from Community and Economic Development Director Alison Steinfield,  Selectmen would like to see the Nobscot and Mt. Wayte Avenue shopping centers revitalized.

Discussion of these two areas in town sparked conversation as to what means, if any, the town has to take eminent domain, or the seizing of property without the owner's consent. 

"Usually we don't take things when they have deep pockets," said Selectman Ginger Esty. Neither property owner owes the town any tax money despite their empty storefronts, she said.

Some selectmen were hopeful that the addition of the proposed library, TD Bank and newly paved roadway will spur the property owner of the Nobscot Shopping Center to reinvest in the property.

"We really need to follow up now," said Selectman Laurie Lee. "I think we really need to jump on the opportunity."

However, Selectman Jason Smith said he needs more than a conversation to convince him that change will come.

"More and more we sit around and twiddle our thumbs. I would like to see some kind of action plan ... a vision," said Smith.

Chair Dennis Giombetti said officials need to look at what conditions legally define "blight" and if either shopping center meets that criteria. If so, he said, officials need to find out how the process of eminent domain works.

"What, if at all, is in the toolbox?" asked Giombetti. "We need to do something."

Despite the lack of development in these two areas of town, Steinfield said her division has worked tirelessly to secure grants and implement other development projects around town.

Last year through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the town was able to purchase and rehabilitate four properties. The first property, a condo located at 131 Mellen St., was revamped and sold last month. Next month, a buyer is set to close on the sale of a single family home at 71 Alexander St.

Following that, said Steinfield, is the rehabilitation of a single-family home at 204 Arthur St., which was purchased last year and will be converted from an illegal three-family home. Pending the sale of the Alexander Street property renovations will begin on Arthur Street next month.

Steinfield said overall her division is focused on spurring community development throughout the town with revitalization plans. Also, through a marketing strategy, Steinfield hopes to draw potential businesses and homeowners to Framingham. To create a business-friendly environment, Steinfield said her division has partnered with the and worked with the to minimize construction impacts on local businesses. To eliminate blight, Steinfield said the town needs to promote ownership and provide adequate infrastructure.

Selectmen were disappointed to see that the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation, which was established in 1995 as a semi-public entity staffed by professionals with economic planning expertise, remains vastly underutilized. Without a specific project or the necessary funding to actively obtain results, the corporation has little to do.

"Until we find funding for them, their hands are very tied," said Smith. Funding is necessary to "let them do their job," he said.

Steinfield agreed that this extension of her department is in need of a grant to fund their operation and mission.

"We haven't used [the corporation] to its potential," she said.

Selectmen agreed to discuss the matter of eminent domain again at a later meeting.

Bob Berman February 16, 2011 at 05:32 AM
The town has the legal right to take the land in both of these examples in the name of Economic Development and there is significant case law to back up the town if they wanted to amazingly now get some guts and do something about the problem. This idea was brought up multiple times three years ago in the Selectmen's race, but nobody seemed to care about the idea then... My feeling back then, as it is now, is that by bringing a strong message publicly to these owners that if they don't do something soon then they are going to lose the land, you are likely going to push them either to a.) fix their properties or b.) give up on them. Why have we waited so long to take action on this? Every Selectmen has run over the past several years saying they are going to clean up these two spots, the land taking option is not a new one, they were all aware of it before this last meeting, what are we waiting for???? Take the land, work with some new, creative developers, and make something happen to re-develop two areas that used to thrive, but have been run into the ground.
Jim Rizoli February 16, 2011 at 05:58 AM
Jim Rizoli said...If it can be done legally then lets do it.
Bob Berman February 17, 2011 at 02:39 AM
Hi Edgar. Valid point, but I would add that this is one of the few areas that the current Selectmen have actually gotten something done! Although very painful at its peak, the major infrastructure work (sewer and water, roads) was very overdue and when done will have a huge impact on exactly what you are talking about.
Heidi Zizza February 17, 2011 at 03:59 PM
I would love to see another grocery store here. It makes sense especially with the new elderly housing coming soon. I live in this area and miss shopping here.
Alan Kawadler February 24, 2011 at 07:44 PM
Why do we have employees on the Framingham payroll that are empowered under the nuisance bylaw to address the blight at Nobscot but fail to do their job? Mr. Suso and the BOS have access to monthly Nuisance code violation citation reports, most of which are low level, but refuse to prioritize the high level of blight at Nobscot. Nobscot area residents need to get a commitment from Selectman candidates to clean up the area with the tools that the Town has available now if they want our vote.
Mark Galante June 20, 2011 at 01:40 PM
As a neighbor to the vacant Nobscot Plaza, member of the EDIC, and lifelong resident, I want to see this and other sites developed as well, maybe more than most. However until the anti-business policies and attitudes change to encourage and support these efforts and the commercial tax rate in this town makes it viable for property owners to be able to afford to do anything, I am afraid only the Genzymes and Staples have pockets deep enough to do so. Efforts have been made to connect the property owners to companies like CVS, Wegmans, and the group that owns the recently denied gourmet wine store, but each time the demands make it not a financially sound investment. As much as I want the site redeveloped, I support the property owners for waiting. How many people in Framingham overextended and now lost their homes in your neighborhood? Although some store spaces are empty and may appear dark, the property is maintained adequately for safety. Be careful what you wish for when you go down the private property rights issue as some day they may tell you what kind of plants you may have in your yard or what color to paint your house.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something