A handful of steps were taken at Monday's town meeting in Swansea in regards to the development of the Swansea Mall property.
The most important majority vote approval was the implementation of a redevelopment authority, something Selectman Chris Carreiro has been pushing for since the first session of selectmen of the calendar year.
Also - there was a vote in favor of increasing the amount of liquor licenses to six, to be issued only along Route 6 from Gardner Neck Road to Milton Reiser Road. Then, from Route 6 to the most northern point of the Swansea Mall.
This will be be known as the “Swansea Mall Redevelopment Area.” All of these actions taken have prompted the prospective buyers of the Swansea Mall property to potentially have the deal done sooner rather than later.
“They're trying to get their ducks in a row,” Attorney Chris Carreiro said. “It's a pretty complicated closing. It's not like a residential sale or even a regular commercial sale. It's a complicated transaction because of what’s owed on the mortgage of the property and what the property is being sold. There's also the matter of property leans and the solar panels.”
In an interview with WSAR, the Swansea selectmen member talked about the following phases in this plan that he's had drawn out in his head for some time now.
“The next step for the town of Swansea would be to set a deadline for letters of intent and resumes for people to serve on the newly formed Swansea Redevelopment Authority,” he explained. “Once we set that deadline, we'll be able to take a look at the resumes and letters of intent and make some initial appointments of four members and then have the Governor to appoint a fifth member.”
He continued, “After that is complete, we'll schedule the first meeting where we establish the bylaws of the Swansea Redevelopment Authority and begin the process of requesting proposals for consulting services for an organization to shepherd us through the process of developing an urban renewal plan for the Swansea Mall area and possibly the Route 6 corridor.”
The timeline at the moment is a bit unclear and murky. A redevlopment plan of this magnitude would usually take a fair amount of time to do right but Carreiro thinks the prospective buyers will reach their goal quickly because the cost of the property while not being in use is unsustainable.
“The carrying cost of the Swansea Mall is very expensive,” the Swansea-based attorney told WSAR News. “You have expensive insurance especially when the building is vacant. You have to keep paying the taxes. I think the prospective buyer would like to generate revenue as soon as possible to offset this cost of carrying the building when nothing’s going on.”
The town also voted in favor to start gathering the necessary funds to begin establishing an urban renewal plan in which Carreiro believes the prospective buyers of the mall will want to fast track.
“I think they'll be very aggressive in terms of their strategy and approach in trying to execute a redevelopment of the mall,” he said. “But an urban renewal plan usually takes 12-18 months. I see a situation in this instance where it takes less time than that - maybe 6-8 months to get this ready to go. Time is money and that goes for both the prospective buyers and the town of Swansea. The longer that property is vacant, the less tax revenue being generated.”