Only One Bid Made For Town’s Commercial Land
By: Mary Stanley
The town’s effort to sell 55 acres of commercial property in South Sandwich drew just one bidder. And it was no surprise to town officials that the offer came from developer Thomas Tsakalos.
The deadline for bids was last Friday at noon.
“We received 10 requests for the proposal packets from different developers but only one formal proposal was submitted. We were certainly hoping for more than one proposal but all you need is one solid proposal that meets the town’s needs,” Assistant Town Manager Douglas A. Lapp said.
With the offices closed on Monday and Tuesday of this week for the holiday, Mr. Lapp said he has not had a chance to thoroughly review Mr. Tsakalos’s proposal.
“We will be setting up a review team that will consist of the town manager, planning director, the assessor, board of health, a consultant from the Sandwich Economic Initiative Corporation, and DPW,” Mr. Lapp said.
Mr. Tsakalos’s $3.5 million offer on this large parcel of commercial land that stretches from Quaker Meetinghouse Road to Route 130 is much lower than the $6 million offer that was received in 2005, which is the last time the commercial property was offered for sale.
Although the town had selected Meetinghouse Development Group as the winning bidder on the property, after four years of trying to hammer out a land sale agreement, in 2009, the deal was abandoned. At that time, real estate values had been in a free fall.
According to Director of Assessing Edward L. Childs, the town’s commercial land is now valued at approximately $1.5 million.
“That’s the value of the undeveloped land. When developers are bidding on it, they are looking at how they can build it out and making their offers based on that,” Mr. Childs said.
Mr. Lapp said the review team will need to review the offer as well as all aspects of the proposal.
“It’s not just about the purchase price. It’s what he will be developing and the recurring economic benefits including the impact it will have on the tax base. There are many things to consider,” Mr. Lapp said.
The assistant town manager went on to say that the $6 million offer made in 2005 may not have been a realistic offer. “We don’t know because it never came to fruition,” he said.
If the town does decide to sell this property to Mr. Tsakalos, it will add to the 49 acres of land that he already owns in that area, giving the developer a total of 104 acres to work with.
Included in that 49 acres are 24 acres of undeveloped land between Surf’s Up Pizza and Seafood and Today Real Estate. Also included in that acreage are existing Canterbury, Tradewinds, and Heritage Park plazas.
Mr. Tsakalos is currently working under a Development Agreement to redevelop these 49 acres. This development agreement is a three-party agreement between the developer, the town, and the Cape Cod Commission and spells out in detail how issues such as wastewater treatment, traffic and impact on infrastructure will be mitigated. This agreement takes the place of a traditional review process with the commission, which can be time consuming and costly.
If Mr. Tsakalos is selected as the winning bidder for the town’s property, there is a possibility that the permitting for this land could be done under his current development agreement. “If the timing is right and the Cape Cod Commission agrees, it could be rolled into his development agreement,” Mr. Lapp said.
Mr. Tsakalos’s designs for his properties, which he now calls South Sandwich Village, include a wading pool/skating rink, community center, indoor sports complex and a mix of residential housing, office and retail space and call for a series of integrated parks that are connected by pedestrian walkways and bicycle friendly paths.
His vision for South Sandwich Village encourages fewer parking lots and more retail, office, and residential units. The designs call for New England style architecture with covered sidewalks that visitors can use to walk to the various buildings and shops
According to General Manager of South Sandwich Village and Tsakalos Realty Trust S. Peter Dubay, if the town accepts Mr. Tsakalos bid on this property, it would enhance his existing properties and allow him the ability to lay out his plans a bit differently and more efficiently.
“These additional 55 acres makes for a much more comprehensive development. And once Tom develops the infrastructure, [which includes an interior road and sewer system that runs the entire length of the property], chances are he will sell off some of the land to developers who will build a hotel and assisted-living facility.” Mr. Dubay said.
Mr. Lapp said he does not know when the town will make a decision on the bid. He said that although all of the proposals were due by December 21, developers had an extended deadline until March 1 to submit their financial statements, which also need to be reviewed.
“Between now and March, we will be reviewing the proposal and making site visits if necessary. After March 1, we will need to review the financial statements as well,” he said.
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