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EDC Met Thursday Morning

by Bobby Blair
May 6, 2018

Members of the town's Economic Development Committee met Thursday morning at town hall. Several members of the board recently attended the ribbon cutting ceremonies for Herb Chambers' new collision center in the New Englander Industrial Park off of Rt. 126. Chairman Peter Barbieri said he wants the committe to be pro-active.

Town Admisistrator Jeff Ritter announced that the downtown traffic light project is on schedule with the lights hopefully to be activated on July 1st. Ritter also said there are thoughts to making the former Axton Cross property on Cross Street a solar farm. A purchase and sales agreement has been signed for the above property at 9 Green Street. The prospective buyer plans to locate their business in the vacant building. The building once served as a bowling ally (pins were set up by hand) in the 30's and later by Ty-Car Mfg. which produced clock hands in the 1960's. The building has lanquished in recent years with taxes unpaid. Town Tax Collector Mary Bousquet is delighted with the sale as the town will receive $111,004.36 in unpaid interest and taxes.

Word had also been received by committee members that Jasper Hill Cafe & Bisto will be leaving town soon for a new location in Millis. Board member Matthew Coletti suggested the town could charge a vacancy fee for empty storefronts as some communities have done. Coletti also suggested a crowd funding effort to activate a grant program for business owners to purchase capital needs. Chairman Barbieri felt the funds might go to sprucing up storefronts or for signage.

 

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Comments (6)

Wellesley we are not! I've been arguing this for years...and I agree with Mark - make it hard for people to park, and they will take their wallets elsewhere. If we want to be known for used car lots and empty store fronts....well, we're heading in the right direction..

- Stan Coffin | 5/7/18 9:12 PM

Take away 9 parking spots and wonder why there are/will be empty store fronts! I think you will see plenty more business owners leaving the center of town in the near future. No parking...no business. Many of the property owners will be looking for RE tax abatements to offset the loss in rents as business owners go to locations where there customers can park and shop!

- Mark Heavner | 5/7/18 4:58 PM

Does anyone know why Jasper Hill is leaving? Did rent go up? Better location?

- Bill Littfield | 5/7/18 3:25 PM

If you want to see a small town with an alive downtown, visit Medfield - losing Jasper Hill will suck a little more oxygen out of Holliston and that's the last thing we need P.S. nice comments Warren

- Lee DeSorgher | 5/7/18 12:29 PM

Great points Warren, definitely a good place to start for necessary discussions. First, I trust that the EDC is starting with calling the landlord and offering to list the space for lease on their (EDC) web-site, ask what challenges there are attracting tenants to their properties in town in general, and offering to meet with them and other downtown landlords and tenants about how all groups including the town can work together to improve "the square" and beyond, same thing in the industrial parks and all commercial property in town. Also, talking to the tenant of this space about why they are moving and how they found doing business in downtown would also be a productive thing to do. I am not in favor of the town charging a vacancy fee but I do think it should be on the list to consider because it is a tool some communities, ones I know of have different overall situations but the EDC should explore this and will find other solutions communities use while doing so. I do think it should be low down on the list of consideration after discussions, planning, and input to find ways to create a vibrant, expanding, and welcome business community in Holliston. Second, I caution against any policy like a vacancy charge or any harder or different look at assessed values that is limited to and targeted at a certain class of property or specific location like downtown, etc. I suspect, haven't done a full analysis but have seen enough specific granular factual evidence to know that whether or not commercial properties are appropriately assessed in general needs to be looked at harder and fully analyzed. In fairness to all property owners and taxpayers and in the spirit of the laws, regulations, and rules associated with assessing, any deep dive or different look at assessed values should be applied across the board, of course starting where the data suggests the biggest issues are, and stopping where there are no real issues other than realities of assessing, if any after a big picture analysis. My gut and experience tell me that the Board of Assessors has and continues to do a great job valuing most classes of real property, and personal property based on competent staff, hard work, passion, and successful efforts, and being as consistent with commercial and industrial properties (in the context of the different Assessment Sales Ratio - ASR - targets set by the state not consistent to a common ASR) probably needs work. I have no horse in this race, never have, and when I talk about value of real estate I am always being impartial, unbiased, and unaffected by any desired outcomes, or actions occurring based on my opinion, which is basically the definition of an Appraiser. I have received push back on this over years and expressed frustration and we all need to take a deep breath. No assessing program will eliminate all outliers of some properties sell well above or below assessment etc. and the realities of mass assessing for assessment, not getti

- Brian Loughlin | 5/6/18 7:54 PM

Speaking to the issue of vacant store fronts and other commercial properties, we need to take a look at the rents that the owners of these properties may be seeking from their tenants relative to the way we value and tax those parcels Are the assessments for these parcels in line with the actual market rent value of these parcels. If not and the owners of these properties can afford to hold them just as speculative investments for future "capital gains" rather than set the rent so they can be fully occupied to their highest and best use,the town is losing in two ways and we need to address this.

- Warren Chamberlain | 5/6/18 9:58 AM

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