Developers Show Interest in Bringing Starbucks to Medfield
Developers representing Starbucks met with Medfield's Downtown Study Committee to discuss the possibility of bringing the famous coffee shop chain to Medfield at the site currently occupied by Mobil on North Street.
Another chain coffee shop may be moving into a prominent section of Medfield.
Greg Salvatore of Salvatore Capital Partners, LLC, based in Dedham, recently met with Medfield’s Downtown Study Committee to present preliminary drawings of a proposal to develop a Starbucks at the current Mobil gas station site at the corner of North Street and Route 109 Main Street. The drawing can be viewed in the photo gallery above.
Salvatore Capital Partners LLC, which represents the Seattle-based coffee shop chain, is currently in negotiations with the property owner – Alliance Energy LLC of Branford, Conn. – of the Mobil site but nothing is imminent at this time, according to Brandie Erb, chairman of the Downtown Study Committee.
“[Salvatore Capital Partners LLC] has come in and made an offer on the property,” Erb said. “[They] have probably another 60 to 80 days to make their decision so this is not something that will happen tomorrow.”
The property, located at the prominent corner of North and Main Streets, just recently went for sale on market, according to Erb, after Mobil decided it no longer wanted a gas station at that location.
“Under its current owner, [the property] would not become anything else other than a Mobil property,” Erb said. “Mobil has decided they no longer wish to operate this property and it has been put on the market. … [Alliance Energy LLC] has the first right of refusal to purchase the property.”
According to the Medfield Board of Assessors, Mobil Oil Company Inc. sold the property, along with several other stations in the area, to Alliance Energy LLC on Sept. 8, 2010 for $10,412,000. In 2012, the Board of Assessors valued the .329-acre property at 467 Main St. at $537,800 with a building value of $249,700 and land value at $218,400. The building was constructed in 1966.
Salvatore met twice with the Downtown Study Committee in May, most recently on May 24, to discuss the possibility of bringing Starbucks to town and gain a better understanding of what the town is looking for in terms of business and appearance.
“[The developers] reviewed some basic information on what they need in order to make [the proposal] a viable project and asked us what the town would like to see there,” Erb said. “When these developers come in to town they obviously want a friendly atmosphere at town hall and to work with the local government.”
Erb said Salvatore Capital Partners LLC is looking for just under 1,800 square feet, which will require an extension off of the left side of the current building.
“They are looking to keep within the existing footprints of the building and with the existing building if possible, with just that small addition,” Erb said.
The Mobil station is located within Medfield’s Historic District, which means any modifications to the building will require town approval.
“It is in the Historic District and the building will generally stay the same Colonial design,” said town historian Richard DeSorgher, who is a member of the Downtown Study Committee. “The potential buyer seemed very receptive to tree plantings, landscaping, Colonial lighting and brick sidewalks. He also thought Starbucks would be agreeable to outside seating, which is also something the Downtown Study Committee is looking for.”
“They’ve been very concerned with meeting our expectations and our demands so it has been very positive,” Erb said of the developers. … “[Greg Salvatore is] very accommodating. He came to us really as a courtesy. The developers do not need to come to us to begin with. We try to make it easier for them for the process through town hall.”
Erb and DeSorgher called the current state of the property an “eyesore” and that something has to be done to improve such a “prominent” and visible section of the downtown.
“In my opinion, the current Mobil gas station has shown no pride in the community; the building needs painting, weeds and tall grass grows,” DeSorgher said. “That location is the heart of Medfield Center, at the intersection of Main and North Streets.”
Said Erb: “We met with [Alliance Energy LLC] months ago prior to the property coming on the market. At that point, we told [the property owner] the Mobil station is an eyesore and it has to be cleaned up and they agreed to that and then went and put the property on the market.”
Erb added that a business like Starbucks would give the town the dramatic improvement the site needs while providing numerous benefits to the town.
“The immediate benefit to the town is the aesthetic value,” Erb said. “The giant back lighted sign will disappear. The parking lot will be cleaned up, the brush cleared, the facade improved, just a general improvement to the look of a major downtown corner. Plus the fact that the tanks will come out and there won’t be a gas station next to Town Hall.
“The long-term benefit that we would like to see is more foot traffic downtown. People will be able to walk down to a coffee shop and have a seat, have an outdoor seat and be able to meet people. It will be a place that is open later than other coffee shops.”
In addition to the possibility of Starbucks replacing Mobil, the Downtown Study Committee is planning to install a “pocket park” for the area between the Mobil site and Zebra’s Bistro, according to Erb.
DeSorgher believes Starbucks’ appearance in addition to the installation of the pocket park will make that part of town more desirable and attractive for the community to enjoy.
“[Starbucks] will bring in activity to the center of town, will add additional parking and will turn an eyesore into an area that will be a credit to the community,” he said. “The landscaping, Colonial lighting and brick sidewalks will complement the Town Hall and Library areas. It will also work into the small town park between the Mobil and Zebras. With some tables/benches put there, this will also add to more life to the town center.”
Because the property is currently a gas station, Erb says the developers will weigh the cost of engineering required for the cleanup of the site as well as the traffic-engineering plan that will be needed for the area.
“There will be some environmental impact,” Erb said.
One advantage Salvatore Capital Partners LLC has is its experience in converting gas stations into Starbucks.
“The developer has done similar properties where he has converted a gas station into a Starbucks so that is nothing new for him,” Erb said. “He’s representing other Starbucks in the area. He has done other ones nearby. It is an area he is familiar with.”
While there’s plenty of upside to Starbucks replacing Mobil, Erb and DeSorgher voiced concerns regarding the potential development.
“We discussed concerns we had such as deliveries and building design and dumpster pickup and snow removal and the appearance in the Historic District,” Erb said. “Everything that the town and our committee needed to be concerned with and he needed to be aware of.”
Said DeSorgher: “Personally, a Starbucks would not be my preference of a business to go there but Mobil is moving out and it appears a potential buyer is going to bring in Starbucks.”
DeSorgher and Erb both touched on the possibility of another coffee shop coming to town – something that may be unpopular to residents following the recent news that Dunkin’ Donuts may be moving into the old Friendly’s site at the corner of Routes 109 and 27.
“It certainly seems like a glut of coffee places but we are being told each has its own loyal customers,” DeSorgher said. “We are being told Starbucks is the only business that feels they can make a go at that location, even though there will be a Dunkin’ Donuts [at the old Friendly’s site].”
Said Erb: “I know it’s another coffee shop … The coffee shops find Medfield very attractive. … At the end of the day the landlords of these properties, as long as they’re not violating any town bylaws and as long as they meet any requirements needed, they are allowed to lease to who they lease to.”
DeSorgher added he is worried about the smaller businesses with two chain coffee shops possibly coming to town.
“I have concerns about Honey's, Donut Express and Blue Moon being impacted by the Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks, but I believe each has loyal customers and I hope will be able to hold their own,” DeSorgher said.
Despite those concerns, Erb and DeSorgher agree that Starbucks, in many ways, could be just what the downtown needs.
“The property is a prominent location, a major corner of our downtown,” said Erb. “Our committee is very concerned about the look of the property as well as making it an active property. Starbucks, by staying open later than a typical store would in town, fits that need.”
Said DeSorgher: “The Starbucks will help with town taxes and improve the appearance of the area.”
But an agreement must be reached first between the developer and property owner and that decision likely won’t be made for a couple months.
“Things are moving forward [with Starbucks] but not final,” DeSorgher said. “It sounds hopeful but anything could happen and the deal is not complete.”