WESTBOROUGH – The sale of the former Regal Cinemas property in Westborough is moving forward after the Select Board approved a request for proposals (RFP) on Tuesday.
This is the latest step after Westborough was awarded ownership of the property through tax lien foreclosure of the site in January.
“[There has been] a lot of work,” said Select Board Chair Ian Johnson during the board’s meeting this week. “We’ve talked about this for a while. It’d be good to move forward.”
Property has ‘suffered extensive damage,’ RFP says
The Regal site, which is located at 231 Turnpike Road, abruptly closed over four years ago.
That kicked off a search for the property’s owner and ultimately led to the town being awarded the property. During Town Meeting this spring, voters approved an article to transfer the property to the Select Board to handle its disposal.
For the past several months, the Select Board and town staff have been working on the language for an RFP for the sale of the site.
The property is just over 29 acres. The theater itself was built in 1997 and is made up of an approximately 49,000-square-foot building with 12 individual theaters.
According to the approved RFP, which was shared with the Community Advocate this week, the building has “suffered extensive damage from vandalism since 2017, when Regal Cinemas closed, including destruction of bathroom fixtures, walls, drop ceilings and glass.”
Staff also noted water damage from burst pipes in the sprinkler system and disrepair in the exterior of the site.
This echoes a report from Police Chief Jeffrey Lourie during Town Meeting, who detailed some of the damage done at the theater as well as ongoing problems on the theater site outside of the building itself.
“From a public safety standpoint, the sooner we get rid of that property, the better,” Lourie said at the time.
In the RFP, the town wrote that proposers should be advised that they may not be able to use the building without “extensive renovations.”
Westborough staff believe gas and electricity was turned off in 2021. But water, gas, electrical and HVAC systems would need to be examined and repaired before utilities could be turned on.
“The Town is interested in selling the Property to a proposer who is ready to put the Property to productive use soon after the closing,” the RFP said.
The town is requiring proposers to identify their proposed use of the property in addition to a schedule for permitting, financing and rehabilitation and a description of how the project would be funded.
A successful proposer must then enter into a purchase and sale agreement within 30 days from the date on which the sale of the property is awarded to the proposer.
The town noted that it may reserve trail easements on the property.
RFPs due by July 25
In the meantime, town staff have been discussing ways to advertise the property, including placing an advertisement on the building and sharing a press release for interested parties.
“I know there’s definitely been inquiries,” Johnson said.
Town Manager Kristi Williams noted that the town has received inquiries for “years.”
“But definitely more recently, too. I think we should see some interest there,” Johnson said.
Parties are able to access the RFP online at https://www.bidnetdirect.com/massachusetts/townwestborough.
Sealed proposals must be received by the Chief Procurement Officer/Grants Administrator at Town Hall on or before July 25 at 11 a.m. The bids will be publicly opened at that time.