Town-financed deal encourages developer to build anew on site and adjoining hardware store parcel
By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling firstname.lastname@example.org
FAIRFIELD — The former Joseph’s Clothing & Sporting Goods building on Main Street has been sold and is scheduled to be demolished in the coming months, a step forward in the town’s efforts to revitalize the downtown.
The project developer said that the company’s research has shown that Fairfield is a good place to invest. “It’s up-and-coming,” said Heidi White, a representative of Hermon-based Ellis Commercial Management. The company, which also owns the former hardware store next door, bought the building for $90,000. The town is providing incentives to Ellis to demolish both buildings and to build a structure on the site of the hardware store at Main Street and Lawrence Avenue. The deal was financed partially by the town’s tax-increment financing district, which captures tax revenue from the downtown area and uses it to help redevelop property in that district. Ellis recently developed another Main Street property that is now the site of a Family Dollar store. “We are very happy to continue our investment in Fairfield,” White said. White said the town has demonstrated a commitment to business development. “They have a lot of momentum right now,” she said. “They’re eager to develop. It makes it worth it to us because there’s a lot of opportunity.” Town Manager Josh Reny said the town bought the property from the Joseph family, then sold it to Ellis on the same day because the two parties couldn’t come to an agreement on financing the deal. Ellis is paying on a 15-year mortgage to the town. Under the agreement, Ellis will receive a credit of $25,000 for demolishing the two buildings and another $25,000 if it constructs a building of at least 5,500 square feet on the site. Reny said that had the town demolished Joseph’s, it would have cost more than $25,000. He also said the town will benefit by having a new business contributing to the tax base. The incentives were offered as part of a larger plan to revitalize Fairfield that includes the $6.4 million redevelopment of the former Gerald Hotel. Joseph’s is between the hotel and the former hardware store. The plan has received comment from the public in the form of surveys, Reny said. “What we’ve been hearing is that some buildings need to be redeveloped and repaired and some just need to go,” Reny said. Reny said that the aging buildings were unlikely to attract new businesses. “Sometimes I think it’s easier to tear down and build new,” he said, noting that the former sporting goods building is about 100 years old. Ellis now is able to build a facility to the specifications of a prospective new business, he said, although a new business has not yet been identified. White said the property will be able to attract tenants once it is rebuilt. “We have a sign up there, but because it’s so run-down, it hasn’t attracted much interest,” she said. “It’s not very appealing right now.” White said Ellis, which develops property all across the state, selected Fairfield as a good prospect because the town is on an upswing. “It’s prime real estate,” she said. “I research the demographics of an area and see what their traffic counts are.” Reny said the expectation is that a new building will be built on the corner, which has a traffic count of more than 12,000 vehicles a day, with additional space available for a parking lot. White said the company has not completely ruled out preserving the hardware store’s basic structure. The hardware store was Giguere’s Market before the days of large supermarket chains. Town records show that it was last used as a novelty store in 2006. The sporting goods store announced plans to move to Waterville in 2012, after 66 years in the Fairfield location. Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287
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The Joseph's Sporting Goods building and the former hardware store on Main Street in downtown Fairfield have been sold and will be demolished in the coming months.
Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans