Thursday, March 21, 2013

Vegetables to Offices

 0 University Drive abuts Newmarket Center

Amherst could get more office space, not that it seems there's pressing demand, if this large 5.8 acre tract of land near UMass on University Drive should sell.  Since it is zoned "office park" that kind of narrows down the options for development.



The Planning Board tried to change the zoning a few years back to a more diversified commercial designation but naturally the NIMBYs shot it down at Town Meeting, where a two-thirds vote is hard to muster.

The land is owned by Mohammad Idrees who purchased it for the bargain price of $22,000 back in 2003 at the Lincoln Pulp and Paper Company auction, with the original idea of building a Mosque.  Since Amherst is not overly flush with Muslims that plan went by the wayside and he briefly tried selling fresh vegetables.

 Mohammad Idrees and his vegetable stand  in 2008 (photo by Mary Carey)

The property has been in Ch61A for the past ten years, and much of it is wetlands, so it doesn't pay much of anything in taxes to Amherst ($94.00).   But the assessor estimates a $40,000 windfall to the town if it should sell for the $890,000 asking price and put to commercial use. 

But these days it seems anytime "open space" goes on the market neighbors simply petition the town to buy it using Other People's Money.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

With all the empty office space in Amherst right now seems pretty silly to build more!

Anonymous said...

The best soils in amherst are all around there and where the most intensive development has happened (i.e. UMass, offices and shopping center). Talk about planning.

Walter Graff said...

Hey if a builder can make a buck, he is going to try to build. Sure there is always space in ʇɹsǝɥɯɐ, but new space attracts tenants. That street is a well traveled road and to a builder a perfect spot for development. I'd imagine in 10 years the entire strip will be developed.

Anonymous said...

Or Town Meeting can zone prime farm soils as agricultural, not commercial or residential. A lot of food can be grown on a few acres.

Anonymous said...

Uh Walter, there are empty offices on that very strip right now. How would a whole new building full of office space ever get rented out? Building just for the sake of building is just plain wrong.

Dr. Ed said...

Why, with the willingness to spend all kinds of money for open space, why wasn't the town there at the auction?

Larry Kelley said...

Probably because it was on a weekend.

Walter Graff said...

I was not talking about renting. I was referring to building. A builder doesn't care if there are empty offices. He makes his money building.

Yes, building for the sake of building is wrong. But that is not how it works. No one is doing that. People build to make money, then it's up to the realtors to swoop in and do what they can.

New buildings attract new tenants even if other older buildings are empty. It's how Phoenix, AZ was built and the same reason why it now suffers with a 40% vacancy rate.

But folks like Del Webb made a billion building buildings that couldn't support the need.

Anonymous said...

How about some student housing there?

Anonymous said...

My thoughts exactly, Anon 7:18.

Anonymous said...

It's almost always cheaper to build on undeveloped land, but development needs to be directed to already built areas. Tail wagging the dog. It's our town, not a developers, since we live with the consequences and bills.

Clayton Steadham said...

I agree. New buildings in a potentially booming area is a way to attract new tenants. However, too much vacant spaces will just end up backfiring on the property owners. Also, however cheap a commercial land might be, it won’t mean much if there are no investors or possible way to make a buck out of it.

Clayton Steadham