Cape Residents React to Stop & Shop's Purchase of Canalside Commons

This image which outlines the Canalside Commons property is part of the listing for the cancelled  Canalside Commons auction that was to take place 10/22/2013 .
IMAGE COURTESY McLaughlin & Co. LLC - This image which outlines the Canalside Commons property is part of the listing for the cancelled Canalside Commons auction that was to take place 10/22/2013 .

The recent purchase by Stop & Shop of the property overlooking the Bourne Bridge Rotary, known in recent years as the site for the proposed CanalSide Commons, has not been greeted favorably by some town residents.

News of the sale was reported by the Enterprise last Thursday and drew immediate reader responses at the newspaper’s Facebook page. The unanimous negative reaction lamented the potential increase of traffic to the area, and questioned the corporation’s motives behind the purchase.

Robert Chalker of Monument Beach wrote, “Stop & Shop already owns an abandoned grocery store in Bourne that they bought to make sure another competitor wouldn’t get in and siphon business off of its Wareham, Falmouth, or Mashpee locations. Do something with that eyesore first.”

James A. Brown of Bourne wrote, in part, “they’ve kept the store vacant at Clay Pond Rd. for years, and businesses at Rotaries create nightmare traffic.” Mr. Brown added that he “will never shop at Stop & Shop again.”

The unanimous negative reaction lamented the potential increase of traffic to the area, and questioned the corporation’s motives behind the purchase.

Out-of-town residents have also responded adversely. Emily L. Ferguson of North Falmouth and Karen S. Bacigalupi of Mashpee both predicted traffic troubles at the rotary. Ms. Ferguson wrote “another traffic catastrophe in the making” while Ms. Bacigalupi commented that “the added traffic will be a problem.” Ms. Bacigalupi added that a Stop & Shop store there will be “an excellent reason to head for the OTHER rotary and shop at their competitor—Market Basket!”

In an e-mailed response to questions about Stop & Shop’s plans for the site, Lindsay Hawley of Stop & Shop’s New England division wrote that the company does not have definitive plans for site yet.

“We are eager to discuss future plans, development opportunities and ideas with the Town of Bourne, the Bourne community, our neighbors and other local and state agencies as move through the development process,” Ms. Hawley wrote.

The 152-acre parcel of land at the top of MacArthur Boulevard was sold by Bourne resident L. Mark DeCicco to Stop & Shop on October 4 for $10 million. The property was scheduled to go up for auction this past Tuesday before Stop & Shop stepped in with its offer.

Ends Longstanding Feud

The sale brought to a conclusion a longstanding feud between Mr. DeCicco and a childhood friend, Lenord G. Cubellis. In 1998, the DeCicco family entered into an agreement giving Mr. Cubellis the right to develop the property. The approval process for what began as a hotel on the property and ended with a multi-use retail and affordable housing project dragged on for years. During that time, the real estate market tanked and the relationship between Mr. DeCicco and Mr. Cubellis deteriorated. In 2008, Mr. Cubellis filed suit to stop the DeCicco family from selling the property. An out-of-court settlement in 2011 returned control of the land to the DeCiccos. That deal required the family to reimburse Mr. Cubellis for $3.8 million that he had spent trying to develop the site. Interest escalated the unpaid settlement to $5.6 million.

Mr. Cubellis filed suit in Barnstable County Superior Court, alleging the DeCiccos were in default on the property, and a superior court judge ruled in Mr. Cubellis’s favor. The ruling led to the land auction that was canceled with the purchase of the property by Stop & Shop.

Bourne town planner Coreen V. Moore said she has not heard anything from Stop & Shop officials about their plans for developing the land.

“Not a peep,” Ms. Moore said.

Ms. Moore said that depending on their plans Stop & Shop may need to get additional approval from the Cape Cod Commission. She noted that commission and town approvals were already in place when the land was to be developed by Mr. Cubellis as a multi-use retail and affordable housing project. She said that deviating from that plan would restart the approval process, starting with the commission.

“The commission has different standards depending on what kind of retail will be going in,” she said.

She suggested that additional approvals would be needed from the state since development would likely require going through or connecting to roads under the control of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, such as Sandwich Road.

Bourne planning board chairman Christopher J. Farrell said that any concerns over increased traffic were misdirected.

Mr. Farrell said that development of the site will likely result in traffic improvements to the area. He also stated that there is no way to stem the flow of traffic to the Cape. “If we didn’t build one more piece of property, stopped building all across the Cape, we’d still see an increase in traffic next week, and the week after. That’s just our society,” he said.

Mr. Farrell said that he would prefer to see a destination hotel-conference center complex, akin to North Falmouth’s Sea Crest Beach Hotel, built on the property as opposed to the retail-affordable housing project town planners had approved. He added that not having seen anything from Stop & Shop, he does not know their intentions, so he declined to remark on the company’s plans for the property.

“Until Stop & Shop makes some sort of plan, I can’t comment,” he said.

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