WESTBOROUGH – Months after the town awarded a bid to redevelop the former Regal Cinemas on Turnpike Road, a pair of lawsuits continues to hold up the proceedings.
One lawsuit was filed by Ferris Development Group, which lost out to LAX Media LLC for the winning bid. Claiming its bid was “objectively superior,” Ferris decided to file suit.
In January, a Worcester Superior Court judge denied a preliminary injunction against the town.
Ferris wants to convert the site into a “beehive” for local entrepreneurs. LAX Media wants to convert the site into a multiplex cinema.
This case is still listed as being open.
Regal Cinemas’ foreclosure
The other lawsuit was filed in Worcester Land Court in January by Westborough SPE LLC, which claimed to have purchased the company from the original owner.
Westborough SPE LLC is asking for a motion to vacate the foreclosure granted in 2019.
The documents were filed one day before the one-year deadline of the final foreclosure decree.
Regal Cinemas closed in 2017; the following year, the town took the property for nonpayment of real estate taxes. In July 2019, the town filed a complaint with the Land Court.
On Jan. 5, 2022, the court issued its final judgment of the town’s taking of the property.
In the meantime, Lolonyon Akouete and Denise Edwards claimed to have acquired the company from its previous owner, F. Jan Blaustein.
On Dec. 6, 2022, Westborough’s town treasurer, Robert Haley, received an email from Akouete, an “asset recovery specialist” who had “acquired Westborough SPE LLC and we would like to redeem.”
After another email inquiring about how to redeem the property, Haley had a telephone conversation with Akouete, who said he had a bill of sale from F. Jan Blaustein of Babcock & Brown Administrative Services. He was advised to seek legal services and provide proof of the acquisition.
On Dec. 13, 2022, Iris Leahy, the attorney representing the town, received a voicemail from attorney Matthew Morris, representing Akouete and Edwards, regarding Westborough SPE LLC. Leahy again requested proof and more information about the acquisition from Morris.
According to Leahy, the motion to vacate was filed by Akouete. It was not signed by an attorney. Also, proof to pay the outstanding tax balance on the property has yet to appear.
On Jan. 14, Leahy received a copy of the bill of sale from Akouete. It comprised two pages, with the seller listed as Westborough SPE LLC, and the buyers as Denise Edwards and Lolonyon Akouete. The sale was made on Nov. 21, 2022, and it was executed on Dec. 8.
Leahy argued that the Westborough SPE LLC formed in 2022 is not the same company as the one that leased Regal Cinemas.
In a suit filed in Land Court in Worcester on Jan. 23, the town said that the motion to vacate the foreclosure “is not supported by facts and evidence to prove the right title and interest in the locus.”
“The moving party has not produced evidence to prove a true claim of legal interest in the locus and therefore there is no real likelihood of success on the merits,” according to the filing.
The Select Board continues to discuss both lawsuits in executive session. This case is also listed as being open.