The town of Jamestown is being presented an investment opportunity that the community as a whole should be eager to consider.
Nick Robertson, the owner of the Xtra Mart complex on Narragansett Avenue, has put the property up for sale. Robertson is willing to give the town a cost-free purchase option to allow ample time to consider a plan for its use and make an offer.
I recommend that the town negotiate a free three-month option on the property with an extension option if the community demonstrates serious interest in purchasing the parcel.
This property is located in the core of the business district in the Jamestown village. Its purchase is a perfect opportunity to determine the future of the community at a cost that will be minimal in hindsight 20 years from now. It could be at least as beneficial to the town as the purchase of the golf course that has been enjoyed by residents for well over two decades.
Mortgage rates are at an alltime low. The town’s excellent credit rating makes it eligible for inexpensive financing and an opportunity to control the use of the heart of the commercial district. The purchase of the property and possibly the adjacent former Fleet Bank property would assure the plan to preserve the town’s unique personality that makes Jamestown one of New England’s finest examples of the preservation of American history.
Presently, Xtra Mart has a lease on the property for nearly two more years. The corporation that owns Xtra Mart is attempting to develop a Dunkin Donuts, Subway and convenience store combination. If this happens, the lease would roll over to Subway and Dunkin Donuts for a minimum of 10 years, and Xtra Mart would be removed from the lease. In any event, Xtra Mart would be relieved of any obligations and would exit the property if a third party were to assume responsibility.
We certainly do not want to allow the establishment of fast-food franchises in the downtown commercial district, or anywhere else on the island for that matter.
I recommend all Jamestown residents to encourage the town administration to explore the possibilities and benefits of taking advantage of Robertson’s offer and act on this opportunity as soon as possible. While they are doing their due diligence, they should also investigate the possibility of purchasing the Fleet Bank property next door. The property has been nothing but an eyesore since a fence was erected around the parking lot, rendering the entire parcel useless.
After the town gains control of the properties, the decision of privatizing or leasing can then be addressed. The important factor is to have control of the use of the property to the town’s best advantage.
The author is the owner of the Chemical Company located on Narragansett Avenue.