Huge Sports Complex In Sandwich Included In New Bids For Town Acres

This rendering shows how a development partnership, which includes Canal power plant owner NRG, has proposed developing the town's 56 acres in South Sandwich into a sports complex, including a variety of fields. The proposal also included building a swimming pool and hockey rink near the Sandwich Marina.COURTESY TOWN OF SANDWICH - This rendering shows how a development partnership, which includes Canal power plant owner NRG, has proposed developing the town's 56 acres in South Sandwich into a sports complex, including a variety of fields. The proposal also included building a swimming pool and hockey rink near the Sandwich Marina.

A smaller version of the previously proposed South Sandwich Village, or the premier destination sports complex in North America?

Those are the two visions put forward in response to a request for proposals issued by the Town of Sandwich in April for 56 acres of town-owned land in South Sandwich.

Two entities responded by the deadline of noon Monday, June 16,  with proposals to develop the town land, situated between Cotuit and Quaker Meetinghouse roads and Route 130 in the so-called “Golden Triangle.”

One is Tsakalos Realty Trust, the entity that walked away in February from a proposal to purchase the entire 56 acres for $4.8 million as part of plan to create a 105-acre, mixed-use “South Sandwich Village.”

The second is a joint development partnership based in Falmouth. The partners are NRG Energy Inc., the owner of the Canal power plant and the largest taxpayer in Sandwich; Falmouth Properties; Dan Duquette Sports Academy; and Boston Global Investors. They propose an ambitious destination sports complex.

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Tsakalos Realty, headed by Greek-American success story and Sandwich businessman Thomas Tsakalos, has returned to the table with a plan to buy 16.75 acres of the town-owned land for $1,088,750.

The new Tsakalos proposal de-emphasizes residential development, a sore point for the town in the prior development negotiations, and brings in a hotel and retail development company with extensive experience, Scout Development.

The proposal would combine the 16.75 acres of undeveloped town land with 25 acres of existing trust property, plus 25 acres of trust property that would be redeveloped and expanded, and 24 acres of undeveloped trust property.

At the end of build-out, according to the trust, the combined tract would include a 120-unit hotel covering 150,000 square feet; 320,000 square feet of retail space; 190,000 square feet of office space; 50,000 square feet of medical space; and 160,000 square feet of residential space.

The Tsakalos proposal is contingent in part on a promise by the Town of Sandwich to not allow competing uses (such as a hotel or retail or office space) on the adjacent 40 acres of town-owned land.

“[The trust] has a proven track record of prudent financial planning and the knowledge of what it takes to conduct a successful business,” the proposal states. “[The trust] is rooted in the Town of Sandwich and is committed to do what is right for the entire community, not just for (the trust).”

In contrast, the joint partners put forward a smaller dollar bid to acquire all 56 acres, but also propose a much more ambitious plan.

The joint partners would pay $750,000 for the entire town-owned tract, as well as make a nonrefundable donation of $150,000 to the Sandwich Economic Initiative Corporation, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to improve the town’s economy.

But the partners say they are prepared to invest $150 million in a project to develop the tract into the “premier destination sports complex in North America.”

Their site plan for the 56 acres includes a 118,000-square-foot fieldhouse that the developers say could accommodate basketball, soccer and lacrosse; a 150-room hotel covering 76,800 square feet and a 100-room hotel covering 51,200 square feet; 77,500 square feet of retail space; two football/soccer-sized fields, one with a running track around it; a multi-use field; a baseball diamond; and three softball fields.

“The ultimate vision is to develop a resort destination here in Sandwich, Massachusetts, that focuses on the needs of the families who are taking their vacations around their children’s sports activities,” the partners state in their proposal.

As outlined, development of the town-owned land represents just the first phase of a three-phase project.

The second phase would build an Olympic-sized swimming pool and indoor hockey rink in the vicinity of the town’s marina district and the Cape Cod Canal.

The third phase would add additional fields in the Sandwich Industrial Park for additional soccer and lacrosse.

Sandwich town manager George H. Dunham said on June 16 that a committee whose members would include representatives from the board of selectmen and the Sandwich Economic Initiative Corporation, as well as town officials such as himself and assistant town manager Douglas A. Lapp, would review the proposals and make a recommendation to the full board of selectmen.

While Mr. Dunham said the review committee has no deadline to make its recommendation, he anticipates the review will move more quickly than the vetting of the prior Tsakalos proposal, which took a year. 

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