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Reel hope for shuttered cinema building in Westborough

September 15,2018 17:19

Westborough officials last week opened four proposals to buy the former Regal Cinemas building on Rte. 9. Three of them propose bringing back a cinema. WESTBOROUGH – The long-vacant Regal Cinemas on Rte. 9 could remain a movie theater.and more »


Westborough officials last week opened four proposals to buy the former Regal Cinemas building on Rte. 9. Three of them propose bringing back a cinema.
WESTBOROUGH – The long-vacant Regal Cinemas on Rte. 9 could remain a movie theater.
The town last week opened four proposals, ranging from $2.5 million to just over $5 million, to buy the property at 231 Turnpike Road (Rte. 9). Three of the bids included plans to renovate and maintain a theater at that location.
Town Manager James J. Malloy said last Friday that he was in the process of reviewing the bids.
“I’m hoping by the end of the day on Monday to have had a chance to read through all of these to see what the contingencies are,” he said at the time. Selectmen were expected to have had a brief discussion in executive session at their meeting on Tuesday. At their next meeting, on Sept. 25, selectmen will likely consider taking the property by eminent domain and awarding the bid.
The town initially had a preliminary $6 million appraisal for the property. But a subsequent and more thorough appraisal came in at $4.79 million.
Walpole-based LAX Media LLC, which operates Apple Cinemas in Cambridge, and Waterbury and Barkhamsted, Connecticut, submitted the high bid of $5,005,005.
The next highest bid, $4 million, came from Grossman Development of Southborough, which constructed Lakeway Commons, the 375,000-square-foot mixed-use development on the former Spag’s property off Rte. 9 in Shrewsbury.
A bid of $3.1 million came from Florida-based Cinema World of Florida, which operates Lincoln Mall 16 & Cinema World & Games in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
The lowest bid was from Black Socks Corp., based in Marlborough, for $2.5 million. Malloy said that developer proposes building a regional grocery store on the site.
The theater, built in 1997 on a 29-acre parcel, closed its doors suddenly last fall, less than a month before its 20-year lease was to expire. The original landlord, Westboro SPE LLC, a limited liability company that was registered in Delaware, administratively dissolved and withdrew its registration to do business in Massachusetts in 2007. The LLC appears to have been an entity created by Babcock & Brown, an Australian company that went out of business in 2009. Westboro SPE's purchase loan on the property from U.S. Bank was satisfied around the time of the theater closing. The bank has said it does not have contact information for Westboro SPE.
The plan is to send Babcock & Brown a notice that the town has taken the land by eminent domain. If they can prove ownership, the town will discuss the land damage award with them.
Malloy, who is leaving Westborough to become Lexington's town manager, said Westborough will have to hold on to the money from the new owner for three years in case a claim is filed against the town. But that will not stop the awarding of a bid and development of the property, he said.

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