By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Representatives from the Boston-based Grossman Development Group, LLC, addressed the Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen Feb. 11 to present a proposal to develop the former Spag's property on Route 9. Representing the group were Howard Grossman, president, Mark Hebert, vice president, and attorney Brian Beaton.
The group presented the board with an overview of the site, which has been in decline since Spag's closed and was briefly replaced by Building 19.
Originally the Shrewsbury Battery and Tire Service store in 1934, the store expanded and the name was changed to Spag's Hardware Supply.When founder Anthony “Spag” Borgatti died in 1996, his daughters took over until 2002, when they sold it to Building 19. After several years, Building 19 also pulled out of the site, declaring it unprofitable.
While presenting no specific plan for the proposed development, the Grossman representatives went through a “to do” list of items that would need to be addressed. The proposal at this stage is for a gentrified pedestrian shopping and “mixed-use” business center which may also include residential space. Action would be needed regarding property titles, drainage management, rezoning, discontinuance of existing public roads, and action by Town Meeting, the Planning Board, the Assessor's Office, and other town bodies.
At the end of this presentation, Selectmen Chair Henry J. Fitzgerald asked the team, “What exactly are you proposing to do?”
Beaton replied that “we are maturing the project weekly” into a “pedestrian-friendly site, perhaps with an office component.” He continued that “the site has great demographics to be linked with another Grossman company that leases office space.”
Fitzgerald then asked if the proposed project would involve a lot of tearing down of existing buildings, to which Beaton answered “yes.”
Beaton stated that this project has an “aggressive timeline.” Town Manager Daniel J. Morgado commented that from what he had seen so far, the town will have to actively assist Grossman with making this happen, considering the many steps that will be required and the fact that the warrant for the next Town Meeting closes March 31.
Selectman Maurice M. DePalo noted that local residents also have an interest in seeing the site improved. The meeting ended with the board indicating general support for such a project, with details to come.
Currently Spag's Antique Market Place is located at the spot. In an interview after the meeting, the antique mall's owner, Doug Thomson, said he is of the “understanding” that his year-long lease, which he has in agreement with Building 19, will be honored.
“Even if these developers are going to come in, it is going to take them at least that long to get anything really going,” he said. “All they have now is a proposal to do a particular project.”
In the meantime, Thomson said he wants to ensure potential customers that he is ready and open for business.
The antique mall is open Saturdays and Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.