Keep Regal House Property on New Bedford Tax Rolls [OPINION]
Regal House Furniture is ending its lengthy run on Church Street in New Bedford and is consolidating with its Fairhaven location. The COVID-19 pandemic has been rough on business. I wish the company luck in its new venture.
Regal House is either in the process of or has completed the sale of its property at 965 Church Street to New Bedford Child and Family Services, a non-profit. That means the Church Street property, valued by the Assessor's Office at more than $830,000, will be removed from the tax rolls.
CFS would close its existing operations at 1061 Pleasant Street and 543 North Street, consolidating it into the Church Street location. CFS would attempt to sell the Pleasant Street property, appraised, according to Mayor Jon Mitchell, at more than $1 million. Mitchell says that property could generate much greater tax revenue for the city if rehabbed and placed on the tax rolls. If.
CFS would locate a mental health counseling center at the Regal House property. Programs would operate from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., five days a week. The building would also house 24/7 inpatient programs for youth and adults with mental health issues. This would require a zoning change and a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Mitchell said that he'd only learned of the project minutes before appearing on my Wednesday program, so he was unclear whether the zoning changes and permit had received final approval. The mayor's lack of knowledge of the project comes as a surprise. You would certainly thank a project of this magnitude would have the attention of the city's chief executive.
CFS has historically provided laudable service to the people of New Bedford. They do good work. But I'm not sure this is the best location for a non-profit.
The Regal House property is prime real estate near Route 140. It should remain on the tax rolls. I understand that this is a transaction between two private entities, but the Mitchell Administration should have recommended against the zoning change.
Perhaps the Pleasant Street property will generate lots of revenue for the city, but having both parcels on the tax rolls would be better. How can we talk about reclaiming the golf course for an industrial park while allowing valuable real estate on Church Street to slide off the tax rolls? It doesn't make sense.
If it is not too late, the Mitchell Administration should work with CFS to find a more suitable location that does not monopolize land that is so valuable to the city while providing relief to the taxpayers.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.