WESTBOROUGH — Vacant for nearly five years, the former Regal Cinemas building on Route 9 appears to have multiple options for its future.
Town officials put out a request for proposals on Monday, and they received four bids from three prospective buyers, with each intending to do something different with the former cinema space.
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The building, at 231 Turnpike Road in the Stagecoach Plaza, was acquired by the town earlier this year after the previous owner failed to keep up with tax payments. Regal Cinemas has been leasing the space since 1997.
The largest bids, by far, came from Atlanta-based PulteGroup Inc., one of the largest homebuilders in the country. It submitted two bids — one for $7.94 million and another for $6.5 million — to demolish the cinema building and construct 108 condominiums, which would not be age-restricted.
PulteGroup stated that its higher bid is being submitted in case the town requires that at least 10% of the units be designated as affordable, while the lower bid value would apply if the town madates that 20% of the units are affordable.
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Essentially, the company is stating that it is willing to pay nearly $1.5 million more for the right to construct fewer affordable units.
Town Planner Jim Robbins said PulteGroup would need to be granted a special permit from the town to construct homes at the former location of the cinema. The cinema is in the Highway Business District, and any residential project would need a special permit.
PulteGroup is no stranger to redeveloping in Westborough. In 2016, it purchased a portion of the former Westborough State Hospital in 2016 and turned it into senior housing.
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Ferris Development Group LLC, issued a bid of $2.875 million for the Regal Cinemas property. The Southborough real estate developer has previously purchased and invested in several other buildings in town, including 1 Research Drive (the current/former BJ’s headquarters) and a handful of buildings along Technology Drive.
According to its proposal, Ferris plans to convert the property into a concept they’ve advertised as a “beehive” — a shared space for small businesses and trade workers.
“Like the revolution that occurred in office space with shared amenities, we anticipate bringing on a new era of professionalism to everyday trades (plumbers, electricians, painters) who will not only have physical space at our Beehive location but will have a strong online and social media presence via our centralized website,” Ferris officials stated in their proposal.
The third bid, for $2.5 million, was submitted by LAX Media LLC, which aims to renovate and update the building and open a new movie theater under the Apple Cinemas brand. The Walpole company owns 13 movie theaters throughout New England, the nearest of which is in Cambridge.
“Our intent is to invest in the premises by thoroughly remodeling and modernizing the facility, which would include upgrading the fit and finish of the facility, installation of luxury recliners, all new LASER projectors, installation of premier large scale 4K screens, and DOLBY ATMOS sound system and installation and operation of quality concessions,” LAX Media stated in its proposal.
The town had accepted a $5 million offer from LAX Media to buy the property in November 2018 after the town couldn’t identify the previous owner. The Board of Selectmen didn’t release details about who eventually claimed ownership but authorized town counsel to terminate the purchase-and-sale agreement with LAX Media.
The current proposals are being reviewed by the Select Board. There is no firm timeline as to when a decision will be made.
The 49,000-square-foot, 12-screen cinema building sits on a 29-acre site. The property was last assessed for just over $2 million by the Westborough Board of Assessors.