Snyder’s Sandwich: Which Of The Two Plans Is Best For The Golden Triangle?

Mark SnyderGENE M. MARCHAND/ENTERPRISE - Mark Snyder

Tsakalos Realty Trust is giving it one more shot for the Golden Triangle prize in Sandwich.  Their proposal is for the purchase 16.75 acres of town-owned commercial land off Quaker Meeting House Road for $1,088,750.

South Sandwich Village is a 65-plus acre proposed smart growth, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented village center that includes mixed-use buildings consisting of retail, office space, hotel and a limited number of residential units. The timeline and phases will be determined by market demand. The site plan was prepared by Horsley Witten Group.

Tsakalos Realty Trust (TRT) manages three existing retail/office plazas on 25 acres in South Sandwich totaling almost 170,000 square feet. These properties, located in the “Golden Triangle,” include Trade Winds Plaza (31,500 square feet), Canterbury Plaza (51,100 square feet) and Heritage Park Plaza (86,800 square feet). These existing properties will be renovated and expanded to blend into the new South Sandwich Village, which may include up to 24 acres, already owned by TRT.

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Here’s one plus: The proposed South Sandwich Village will include a new wastewater treatment facility to be located at the end of Jan Sebastian Drive, approximately one mile to the north of the development area. This wastewater treatment facility will be designed in accordance with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Groundwater Discharge Permit (GWDP) Program, replacing many existing commercial and industrial wastewater discharges that rely upon conventional Title V septic systems that provide minimal treatment.

Here’s another plus: South Sandwich Village will provide significant financial benefits to the Town of Sandwich, as well as the entire region. Existing TRT properties total 170,000 square feet, consisting of 65 retail and office businesses that employ 250 full-time employees, paying annual salaries of approximately $6.25 million. TRT currently pays $287,690 a year in property taxes to the Town of Sandwich. Over the next 10 to 12 years, SSV will grow to 870,000 square feet, including 325 businesses, 160 residences, and 1,250 full-time employee jobs, paying estimated annual salaries of $31,250,000. As a result, TRT will become the largest property taxpayer in Sandwich at $2,838,801. Total construction cost for SSV is estimated at $188 million, resulting in 550 construction jobs paying salaries of $27.5 million. TRT plans to construct 2.5 miles of new roads, and 15 acres of parking lots.

The other proposal is for a destination mixed-use sports complex. It comes from a group of heavyweights, including former Boston Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette (his Sports Academy), Falmouth Properties, NRG Energy, Inc. (Sandwich’s largest commercial taxpayer currently), and Boston Global Investors.
They have budgeted an investment of $150 million into recreation, real estate, energy solutions, and needed infrastructure for only the first phase. They plan future investments for the industrial park and marina district. 

In its RFP, the group says that “the key to the success of this venture is a true public private partnership focused on the domain of infrastructure. The infrastructure needs of Cape Cod are staggering. Without the commitment to investing in our future, there can only be limited growth.”

The group went through all of Sandwich’s attempts to develop this property, and cautioned that the mitigation costs are significant for any developer. They see wastewater costing $25 million, transportation infrastructure of over $16 million, and open space and natural resource costs topping $730,000.  

“The town has been seeking a developer for this parcel for more than 10 years. They have issued three RFPs for selling the property, but for a variety of reasons, including lack of infrastructure and permitting requirements, they have yet to sell the property. Future development of the South Sandwich Village and Industrial Park is a $50 million infrastructure problem that needs to be addressed before any real development can take place in the town.”

According to their proposal, in 2012, $1 billion was spent directly on tourism on Cape Cod. Sandwich got 2 percent of that large pie. 

Here’s a plus: “Phase 1” of the proposed plan is for a “Mini Patriot Place” geared to the youth athletic travel community. Their goal is to build “The premiere destination sports complex in North America.” 

They also plan a community center at the marina, with a hockey rink, Olympic-sized pool, basketball and indoor soccer. The entire project also includes a field house (with soccer, lacrosse and basketball), a number of retail stores, office space, and two hotels. A consultant to the consortium, Paul Cleary, told Snyder’s Sandwich, “The core of the property is the indoor facility, which allows the 52-week season. If we can get the hockey rink, indoor pools, and the two hotels, we can expand the travel opportunities to a full year.”

Here’s another plus: The 60,000 visitor model, based on a 26-week travel season, has an estimated impact of $38.2 million in sales, 345 jobs from that, and approximately $12 million in annual salary directly to Sandwich employees, as part of the entire tourism picture.  

And Yet Another: This group has been in town two years, meeting with the town administrator, the selectmen, the schools and local sports leagues.

Mr. Cleary says, “Youth athletics is a thriving industry. The girls’ side of softball, hockey, and basketball has exploded over the past decade. When we spoke with the schools, we had them give us a ‘wish list.’ We agreed, as part of our proposal, to revamp ALL of the Sandwich schools outdoor facilities. Just at Sandwich High, that could cost us $1.5 million. Add in the Oak Ridge, Forestdale, and Wing schools and we could be spending up to $5 million.”

Advisor-strategist Mr. Cleary said, “You can’t run this business without the two hotels. There’s not enough housing to handle the demand,” adding, “The average dollar amount spent by each visitor ranges from $400 to $600 each. I’d think on Cape Cod that average would tend to be on the higher end.”

The key to this bid is the 150 acres at the marina that are already owned by NRG and NStar. They would be contributing five acres there for this project—particularly for the indoor rink and the Olympic swimming pool. When asked about the need for these, when Sandwich High has a pool, and there’s an ice rink a couple of miles down the road,

Mr. Cleary said that “The hockey community feels there are inadequate facilities here and on the South Shore. And, the pool will be a genuine Olympic pool. There are none of those here. We’ll be pulling from the South Shore, down to Hingham, not just on Cape.”

Three years ago, this same group answered an RFP for development at the Sandwich Hollows Golf Club. The available acreage and zoning there prevented this type of plan.

Mr. Cleary gives credit to the leaders in our town. “There are some pretty smart guys in town hall. There’s a difficulty more with the 100 years of deferred infrastructure.”    

Meanwhile, Peter Dubay, who is project manager for Tsakalos Realty Trust, expressed concern about the hurdles that TRT is facing regarding wastewater.  But, he said he’d have enough acreage with this addition to create a wastewater facility for the development. “It’s a hurdle and an opportunity,” he told me.

Mr. Dubay said, “From the very beginning, Mr. Tsakalos’s vision is the development of a comprehensive village—retail space, office space, and some residential component. We had a balanced approach. The town had problems with the amount of residential. That’s been scaled down in our latest proposal. The potential market is ‘over 55’ and ‘young professionals.’ Burdens on the school system will be minimal. It’s not going to be designed and marketed for young families. The additional expenses to the town will be more than made up through additional tax revenue and all the other components that come from growth.”

A University of Massachusetts study, paid for by TRT, called for some retail being supported. “We’ve had discussion with major retailers. New England Development and the Wilder Companies thought a high-end retail area could succeed in Sandwich. The Cape Cod Commission’s study really didn’t help us.  We have a good mix of retail, office and residential. The retail piece will work in our plan.”

One of the advantages is that TRT has gone through much of the permitting process already. “We’re just waiting for road easements for the sewer lines. We’re still in the queue with the CCC for a three-party development agreement. We’ll need an extension on that. By the end of the calendar year, we should be all set with all of our permits. Design and financing should take about six months after that. The hopes are that we could start by next summer. It will be driven by the market. Scout Hotels is partnering with us, and they did the Sea Crest. We’ll need to secure a retail partner. We’re only planning 130 rental units. They’ll be built over the retail space. We’re going to offer the new broadband to companies, hoping to secure some good paying jobs in high tech. We really hope to provide a way to have our children grow up and continue to live and work here,” Mr. Dubay added.

These are two solid plans for a space that has sat vacant for decades here in Sandwich. Shall we go with a high end sports complex, or a mixed-use plan? Which plan is better for taxpayers in Sandwich? I’d like YOU to weigh in. Let me know which plan you would choose, and why. Send your response via e-mail to snyderssandwich@aol.com or via snail mail to Box 639, East Sandwich, MA 02537  

Mark Snyder, a member of the Sandwich Finance Committee, has written more than 1,900 articles in newspapers and magazines, and published three books, and is the CEO of PMPNetwork.com, the Internet’s entertainment superstation. Have a story idea? He can be reached by e-mail at snyderssandwich@aol.com, on Facebook (Snyder’s Stoughton), and on Twitter (MediaMan2009). Write him via snail mail at Box 639, East Sandwich 02537. 

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