n-cumbchase-012209 Chase will vacate Cumberland subdivision

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CUMBERLAND — Facing a near-stagnant commercial building climate, land owner David Chase is expected to vacate his 12-lot Route 1 subdivision next month.
The subdivision, which is under a contract zone, was most recently eyed by Cedarwood Development of Ohio for a $50 million big-box shopping center. That proposal was withdrawn by the developer in September, leaving Chase with a 35-acre commercial site and no potential clients when the market collapsed weeks later.
Despite having invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in infrastructure and Department of Environmental Protection permits, the significant cost of carrying on the subdivision forced Chase to rethink the property. He eventually decide to vacate the subdivision while maintaining the contract zone.
“It seemed to make sense,” Chase said, since he was paying sewer fees and close to $50,000 a year in property taxes. “In this soft economy, it doesn’t make much sense to keep it alive as a subdivision.”
As a divided lot, the property is assessed at around $3.5 million, according to town officials. Vacating the subdivision – which means the property will revert back to a single lot and all approved roads and permits will be erased – will bring the lot’s value closer to $600,000.
While better for business from Chase’s perspective, it causes a significant loss to the town at a time when revenues are already falling short: Cumberland will lose upwards of $40,000 in property tax revenue.
Chase will go before the Planning Board in February for approval of his plan to vacate, which requires plans to stabilize the site and protecting it from erosion, Town Manager Bill Shane said.
While Chase is opting to maintain the contract zone he took over when he acquired the property in 2005 – which allows up to 140 residential units with one lot OK’d for retail and the rest office-commercial – he said he has no current plans for the property.
Aside from the controversial big-box development proposed last year, Chase said other interest has come before from developers looking at residential or senior housing projects.
But given the disappearance of the commercial market, he said he’s not sure what the future will bring.
“I don’t have a crystal ball to tell what the use will be,” he said. “Four years ago, there was a market for commercial property on Route 1. It’s possible that there will be a whole new approach in the future.”
But, he added, for the time being, “not any market is good.”
The lot is still for sale, Chase said, “and we’ll proceed from there.”

Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or strent@theforecaster.net.