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Westborough accepts bid for cinema property

November 29,2018 16:22

Leigh Emery, chairwoman of the Westborough Board of Selectmen, said the $5 million bid from LAX Media LLC for the former Regal Cinemas property offers “a business model that we think fits best with our strategic planning.” WESTBOROUGH – Selectmen ...


Leigh Emery, chairwoman of the Westborough Board of Selectmen, said the $5 million bid from LAX Media LLC for the former Regal Cinemas property offers "a business model that we think fits best with our strategic planning."
WESTBOROUGH – Selectmen have accepted a $5 million bid from a Walpole-based media corporation to purchase and operate a cinema at the long-vacant Regal Cinemas on Rte. 9.
LAX Media LLC, which operates Apple Cinemas in Cambridge, and in Waterbury and Barkhamsted, Connecticut, submitted the high bid of $5,005,005. Two other bids that included maintaining a movie theater on the property came from Grossman Development of Southborough, for $4 million; and Florida-based Cinema World of Florida, which operates Lincoln Mall 16 & Cinema World & Games in Lincoln, Rhode Island, for $3.1 million. The fourth, and lowest, bid of $2.5 million came from Marlborough-based Black Socks Corp., which proposed building a regional grocery store.
Selectmen held a short meeting on Nov. 20 to award the bid to LAX Media. Selectmen Chairwoman Leigh Emery said the selection was made based on it being the most advantageous economic benefit to the town.
The bid “is a million dollars over the nearest other proposal; it is above the appraised value; it closes 30-60 days earlier,” Emery said. “It’s a business model that we think fits best with our strategic planning that the Board of Selectmen has worked out the past six months or so and voted as a plan for moving forward for keeping our community a family-friendly town with recreation activities available for all age groups in an affordable fashion.”
The 12-screen theater was the only movie cinema in town. It was built in 1997, on a 29-acre parcel at 231 Turnpike Road (Rte. 9) in Stagecoach Plaza. The theater abruptly closed its doors last fall, less than a month before its 20-year lease was to expire. The property is appraised at $4.79 million.
The town, however, has not been able to find an owner. The original landlord, Westboro SPE LLC, registered in Delaware, administratively dissolved and withdrew its registration to do business in Massachusetts in 2007. The limited liability company was 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 the landlord.
Former Town Manager James Malloy, who left in October to become town manager in Lexington, said the town will have to hold onto the money from the new owner for three years in case a claim is filed against the town. But he also said that would not stop the selling and development of the property.
The new owner did not reply to an email seeking plans for renovations and when the cinema will open.

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