By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Northborough – The historic White Cliffs mansion is now back on the market after a Shrewsbury woman withdrew her bid to purchase the property.
In June of 2014 the owners, the LaCava family, decided to close the business they had run there for nearly 30 years and put the 6.5 acre property, which includes the 18,000-square-foot mansion, on the market for $2 million. But the building also needs at least $2-$3 million in renovations to bring it up to code and make it compliant with the American Disabilities Act, according to Michael Durkin, Realtor with LAER Realty Partners.
Melissa Pride-Fahs had hoped to purchase the iconic property and turn it into a multi-use facility, including a banquet hall and a space to hold community, art, historical and educational events. In meeting with the town’s Historic District Commission, (HDC) at its Nov. 18 meeting, Pride-Fahs said she had raised funds to purchase the building but needed $1 million in assistance from the town’s Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds for immediate needed renovations.
After their attempts to find a buyer were unsuccessful, the owners decided to apply for a demolition permit in January of 2015. Town officials came to an agreement with the owners to delay the demolition while they tried to assist in finding a buyer in the hopes that the iconic building would be sparred.
Pride-Fahs, who said she has “always loved the building,” was hopeful that she would be the one give the mansion new life.
Although she received approval from the HDC that they would support her CPA request, she ultimately decided to withdraw that application and instead seek a deal that would allow her to lease the property for three years while she embarked on a fundraising campaign.
But on Feb. 8 she made the difficult decision, she said, to totally withdraw her bid to purchase the property.
“I was incredibly hopeful that I would be able to finalize the lease and start on renovations, but the escalating costs and requirements to even get the building reopened in order to generate sustainable income proved impossible, not including the millions to later purchase and restore,” she said.
“I needed more help than I was able to get. It just wasn’t financially feasible in the end and I am heartbroken at the pending demolition of this beautiful property. The current owners and their attorney were wonderful to work with and I know they wanted to see it saved too,” she added.
Pride-Fahs noted that she has returned all donations that were contributed to her fundraising effort.
Durkin said while the property is still on the market, time is running out on saving the mansion.
“We have applied for the [demolition permit] and will continue to show it and look for a buyer,” he said. “Everyone knows my clients want to sell and I hope a buyer emerges sooner, rather, than later.”