«

»

Jul 12

COMMONWEALTH LANDING GROWING

The Herald News, Tuesday, July 10, 2012 – Page A1

Fall River – About two years after his partners bought the former Quaker Fabric Corp. headquarters for $1.5 million at a bankruptcy auction, businessman Anthony Cordeiro said Monday should mark a demonstration they can “bring lots of life to the waterfront.”

On a day with an almost cloudless blue sky, with about 150 invited guests from the education, business and political sectors, Cordeiro, with business partners Larry Couto and Alan Macomber, proudly showed their progress after the ribbon cutting for Bristol Community College’s new workforce center.

By October when Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar and Grill is slated to open after four more months of intensive reconstruction, the lower 2½ stories, totaling 100,000 square feet of commercial space, will be fully leased and operational, said the partners of Commonwealth Landing LLC at 1082 Davol St.

Investment at least $15M
It would represent by fall an $8 million investment in the multi-stage project that Cordeiro, the managing partner, now pegs at $15 million to $18 million by the time the building on 5.5 acres fronting the Taunton River is a finished redevelopment project.

By the fall, after several new spaces are operational, about 400 people should be working in the building Quaker left in 2007, Macomber said.

The top two or three floors of the 19th century brick structure is slated for up to 90 two-bedroom apartments that will be slightly smaller than an earlier concept.

To dozens of residents on lists waiting for that to happen, Cordeiro advised, “Sit tight.”

Their apartment designs are complete, and they hope this fall to begin the residential stage.

On Monday, Cordeiro, Couto and Macomber walked between the large courtyard being cemented adjacent to the first restaurant that will open within two weeks – Red Cedar, a Federal Hill-style Italian eatery.

“Everything they cook is going to be brick oven, no Fryolators,” said Couto.

A waterfall, large screens streaming music, concerts and videos will set the atmosphere of Red Cedar, with about 5,000 square feet of first-floor space for about 225 guests between the interior and a unique patio.

Water view patios
The outdoor space will bring access to and from the water, giving the patrons a place “to read, eat, have a drink in a common area,” Couto said.

The wrap-around patio of Remy’s will be nearby to Red Cedar’s but “totally independent” so the separate liquor licenses are not co-mingled, but still close enough to each other to shift from one restaurant to the other.

“We’re trying to create a place where people are going to want to hang around,” Cordeiro said.

An area that required approval was where only low granite walls remain of the 1940s coal bunker or “torpedo” building.  The Massachusetts Historical Commission allowed upper sections to be demolished but not the granite.

Within those walls, with one vehicle-sized cut-out, will be 40 parking spaces that will be among 340 spaces designed for the entire project, Cordeiro said.

While some in the community have questioned parking capacity for two restaurants, commercial spaces and apartments next to Bicentennial Park, Cordeiro clicked off other numbers.

Enough parking
The 1,100-square-foot apartments require 1½ parking spaces each, but Cordeiro believes at most 110 would be needed if the maximum 90 units are created.

Most of the other parking would be on the north and south sides of the building and the front east side, and schedules between residential, student and patrons schedules should lessen overall parking needs, Cordeiro said.

Parking will be available along adjacent Brunell and Remington streets, and studies show about 1,000 on-street parking spots exist within a quarter mile, Cordeiro said, adding, “We’ve done our due diligence on that.”

Both Cordeiro and Flanagan brought up the controversial $250,000 to $300,000 the city targeted in state highway funds for hardtops, sidewalks, curbing and lights that was later uncovered and the businessman and mayor acknowledge helped this project.

Cordeiro, who backed Flanagan with nearly six-figure fundraising, justified the city investment.

Within a short time of buying the bankrupt property, they paid $113,000 in back taxes, including water and sewer.  The property is now assessed at $2.9 million – nearly $1 million less than when they bought it but almost double the bid sale price.  Currently, real estate taxes are $68,000 a year, assessors and Cordeiro confirmed.

He declined sharing what he expects taxes to reach, but said, “I believe in two years from now the city will get more than its money back.”

Things happening quickly
While they answered questions about parking, taxes and other details, the partners were most enthusiastic about the progress made.

Along with BCC, Arbour Health System, private behavioral health providers, will use the 40,000 square feet on the second floor.

New Life Worship is expanding to 16,000 square feet on the basement and first floors that will include retail space to sell clothes.

More recently, Community Connection Inc. accepted a lease for 12,000 remaining square feet of the first floor in a large open track with support columns.  A social services agency that helps disabled people, it’s doubling its size by moving from Hartwell Street.

One of several small gems the developers noted was the Brian Fox Studio, where the celebrity artist from Somerset will bring his work and clients within the interior brick walls by appointment.  His famed work has ranged from Jackie Robinson to Sitting Bull to New England Patriots stars.

Cordeiro said he’s “three-quarters certain” they’ll bring a coffee shop to their premises, although arrangements with Custom Coffee House in Portsmouth, R.I., has floundered because they need a drive-through that’s been more difficult to configure.

Of this he sounded more certain: Their project “is going to create a lot of activity on the waterfront.”

Email Michael Holtzman at mholtzman@heraldnews.com