WILMINGTON, MA — Walgreens closed its doors at 277 Main Street in Wilmington back in June 2015. The property has remained vacant ever since.
The town’s newly formed Economic Development Committee is hoping to help change that.
What complicates matters, however, is the property owner is not incentivized to actually fill the space.
Aubuchon Realty Company, the parent of company of Aubuchon Hardware, purchased the 15,466-squre foot building for $5.17 million back in 2017. Despite no longer occupying the building, Walgreens CONTINUES to pay the lease, which is fully guaranteed to Aubuchon for more than a decade. In fact, at the time of the sale, Walgreens had $4,462,500 of remaining lease payments due to Aubuchon.
“This is a real estate long-term play for [Aubuchon]. I would look at it as a nice bond with a massive payout later,” said Committee Vice Chair Tom Card, noting the property will be worth much more than $5.17 million when Aubuchon eventually sells it, all the while collecting rent from a vacant tenant.
“In talking to people at Aubuchon, they say it’s a real estate thing and has nothing to do with their hardware portfolio,” confirmed committee member Daniel Gibbons. “I half believed that, but it’s been several years now and weeds are growing out of the building. They view it as an investment of some sort. It’s a pretty nice bond.”
Walgreens, on the other hand, does have a financial incentive to sublease the property to another business to help defer costs associated with the lease.
“If we wanted to be very aggressive in trying to fill the Walgreens location, the big play would be to go the leasing agent and say we want to help them sublease it,” noted Card. “They’re probably paying some ridiculous rent amount each month. We could help them find a tenant and defer some of their costs. They may be open to that.”
“Walgreens is still the tenant. They’re paying Audubon. And the town is still collecting taxes,” recapped Committee Chair Mike Champoux. “But what can we do to fill that empty store? Does the town have any teeth in matters like this? It would be nice if we did… This [stinks] for Wilmington.”
For starters, the Committee has decided to send a well-crafted letter to SRS Real Estate Partners, the commercial real estate firm actively attempting to sublease the property.
“What if this committee wrote a letter, introducing ourselves and seeing if they’d be willing to engage in a conversation about what their hopes are for their property? Let’s see if we can help them fill it,” suggested committee member and Selectman Greg Bendel. “We know what our hopes are — to fill that vacancy with a business that will benefit the community.”
Committee member Patrick Giroux, who works in commercial real estate, agreed to draft a letter for the committee to review at its next meeting on Wednesday, September 25, 2019.
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