NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Cumberland Farms still hasn't purchased the former City Yard and officials are pushing to close that deal before the fiscal year ends June 30.
During an update at Wednesday's Finance Committee meeting on the status of municipal land under contract, Mayor Thomas Bernard said the convenience store chain was allowed to extend its option one more time.
"Cumberland Farms has exercised one more extension option because as a matter of corporate policy ... have done some redesign of their store footprints," he told the committee and attending city councilors. "They're projecting a slightly smaller footprint for the store, I don't know if they have to come back to the Planning Board with an updated site plan. But they need to do whatever it is they need to do."
The company had asked for extension into fiscal 2020 but the city rejected that request.
"I really said to them, I want this closed by the end of the fiscal year," the mayor said, adding he anticipated closing the option in early June to"get the execution of the purchase and sales so we can book the revenue in FY19."
The sale of the complex on Ashland Street is the closest the city has come to selling off surplus property. It was put out for bid with five other properties in 2017 after the city bought the former anodizing plant at Hodges Cross Road to serve as the new City Yard.
Cumberland offered $575,000 — $100,000 more than the assessed value — with the caveat that up to half that could be offset for cleanup. The chain had been looking for a larger location close to the downtown for several years and has received permitting for curb cuts, gasoline tank storage and site plans.
The chain owns close to 600 locations in eight state and has been on a building binge for about the last decade. The push has been for larger convenience stores with more variety in offerings. The Planning Board approved a 5,814-square-foot convenience store and four fueling stations with eight pumps last fall and work was expected to start this spring.
Cumby's, however, has indicated it wants to shrink the store's footprint while maintaining the rest of the site plan. The 80-year-old Westborough chain is also apparently seeking a buyer, according to media reports, although it's not clear this is affecting any current projects.
The salt shed on Ashland Street is also under contract but that sale appears to be going nowhere as the buyers — B&B Micro Manufacturing — are pursuing the purchase of the former Brown Packaging building in Adams.
"It's a really big deal for them. I you know, I really wish that they were staying in North Adams, I think we all know that they have tried over the past couple years, and they've been in business," Bernard said. While it was expected the salt shed purchase won't close, the mayor added that "they haven't given us formal notification of that."
The council also authorized the sale of Notre Dame church last August to Square Office LLC, which is proposing an $18.5 million hotel at the East Main Street location. The purchase price is set at $253,000.
"They're taking some additional time with due diligence," said the mayor. "They've requested an extension into the second quarter. We had hoped to have it in the in the first quarter of '20. But I agreed to that in the hopes that they're going to move forward."
He added that describing it as an "extension" is inaccurate because the purchase-and-sales agreement is still being negotiated. Rather, it is more of a change in closing date, he said.
As for the option the Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum has on Western Gateway Heritage State Park, that will expire on May 11.
"We met with them this week and what we agreed to is an extension of the option under the current terms," the mayor said. "We have to formalize this with a memorandum of understanding."
That extension will run to June 30 while the city solicitor develops a new agreement between the museum and the Redevelopment Authority, which has oversight of the park and the former Sons of Italy property.
"They still are interested in the property that they currently have under option and they plan to go forward," Bernard said. "They're trying to figure out their their time horizons."
The concept of museum maestro Thomas Krens is an interactive facility the integrates high tech with detailed model railroads and architectural models to scale, including an Empire State Building that's been housed at both Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and the Mohawk Theater because of its height. EMRCA is in the development stage and seeking financing to begin the multi-million dollar project.
"I'm inclined to do another another year, but we haven't we gotten to terms and the Redevelopment Authority is within this conversation as well," Bernard said.
When asked if there would be a fee involved in the new agreement, the mayor said yes and that similar considerations have been discussed in relation to a request for proposals for the Mohawk Theater.
"We've effectively not gotten a good enough deal for the city in terms of an option payment or a down payment to give the potential buyer enough skin in the game to give them an incentive to move forward quickly," he said.
City officials are also reviewing what can be done with the Windsor Mill after a potential buyer declined to exercise an option on the property because of contamination.
"We're going to have some conversations with MassDevelopment, see what what funding resources they might have both to supplement our brownfields [funds] but also just in terms of general redevelopment," Bernard said.
The mayor anticipates soliciting new RFPs for the unsold properties, including Sullivan School that received no bids the last time, once the status of the salt shed is confirmed.
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'The Art of Racing in the Rain': Tearjerker & Tail-Wagger
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