Key players sat down last week at Sandwich Town Hall for the latest round in the high-stakes poker game more commonly known as South Sandwich Village.
A few cards were shown. A few remained hidden. And a make-or-break regulatory deadline ticked a couple of hours closer.
Following the meeting, the consensus among Sandwich town and developer Tsakalos Realty Trust officials seemed to be that the project, which would involve the construction of more than one million square feet of retail, commercial and residential space, had nudged closer to reality.
“We continue to move forward,” said Kevin Kirrane, the Mashpee attorney who represents the trust. “We’re looking to cross the finish line.”
But at least one selectman, Ralph A. Vitacco, said Wednesday that he is prepared to vote no on the sprawling project if the Cape Cod Commission finds by mid-March that the trust has failed to complete its application for a development agreement. The trust has agreed to submit the application by March 1.
Five selectmen serve on the Sandwich board. Three selectman’s votes are needed to move the project forward.
Should the Cape commission find the application complete, trust general manager Peter Dubay said, he anticipates that another three to six months will be needed to negotiate the actual agreement.
The trust has proposed creating “South Sandwich Village” by melding 56 acres of town-owned land with 49 acres already owned or controlled by the trust in the so-called “Golden Triangle” between Route 130 and Cotuit and Quaker Meetinghouse roads.
The trust has agreed to buy the 56 acres, which are vacant, for $4.8 million.
But the land purchase seemingly is among the least of concerns hovering over the deal.
One of those concerns has been sewer easements for the project. The easements would tie in with a yet-to-be-constructed treatment plant.
Even without the town land, the trust will need the easements to upgrade its current 49 acres, which includes the Canterbury, Heritage and Trade Winds shopping centers.
The state Department of Environmental Protection will not allow development to proceed without the easements.
A Special Town Meeting in November allowed the selectmen to negotiate specific easements in the South Sandwich area.
Mr. Kirrane characterized the easement issue at present as a question of attorneys ironing out legal details.
But another concern—the mix of retail, commercial and residential development at South Sandwich Village—appears to remain a stumbling block.
Simply put, Sandwich town officials want to know what the trust plans to bring in. Simply put, the trust does not at present want to stipulate those details.
Officials such as James W. Pierce, chairman of the board of selectmen, see detailed development plans as a key factor in determining traffic mitigation costs.
Selectmen also are leery that the residential share of South Sandwich Village will grow, placing additional burdens on Sandwich taxpayers.
But the trust has maintained that the market will drive what is built at South Sandwich Village, within what trust general manager Peter Dubay has described as overall shares of one-third office, one-third commercial and one-third residential.
Mr. Dubay said more recent modifications to include assisted and independent living units at South Sandwich Village remain a “drop in the bucket” for the overall development.
Sandwich officials at Wednesday’s meeting such as town manager George H. Dunham emphasized that they want to make the best decision for the town on the South Sandwich proposal.
Town officials say they hope the development not only yields a viable mixed-use village community, but generates significantly more tax revenue than costs.