Why New Bedford’s Kings Highway Hasn’t Been Redeveloped
Why would two large parcels of land on Kings Highway in New Bedford, in what would seem to be a desirable area near the airport and with access to Route 140, remain undeveloped for so many years?
Shaw's closed its Kings Highway location in 2011, a dozen years ago. Newport Creamery has sat vacant and crumbling for even longer than that.
So, what gives?
Why hasn't there been interest in developing these parcels? Perhaps there has been, but the owners are not interested in selling — at least not yet.
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell says the Kings Highway properties, Kings Plaza and Fieldstone Marketplace, are owned by out-of-state real estate investment trusts.
Mitchell's Interim Public Information Officer Holly Huntoon tells me, "According to the Treasurer's office, the plazas are currently owned by Cedar-Kings LLC and Cedar-Fieldstone LLC, both from Virginia." Huntoon says these real estate trusts have owned the properties "since 2005ish."
Mitchell recently told WBSM's SouthCoast Now his economic development counsel has had multiple conversations with the owners of both properties and has been told, "We're just sitting on these properties because they will appreciate in value."
Mitchell says the owners say, "We won't put a dime into them or very little money into them, and that's our investment strategy."
According to Mitchell, "If they are not breaking the law" or "violating building codes," they "have a right to sit on the properties." Calling it unfortunate, Mitchell says his administration will "continue to pursue them."
Mitchell says, "We can only push so much." He adds, "We can't require them to actually invest in the properties."
Mitchell says, "We really would like to see those parcels developed." He says if sold, the parcels could generate jobs and more tax revenue for the city.
The properties are managed by Wheeler Real Estate Company (WHLR), a subsidiary of the Virginia Beach-based Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust. An email seeking comment has so far gone unanswered by WHLR.
Mitchell hopes the completion of the South Coast Rail Project might encourage the owners to sell the King's Highway parcels.
Here are some additional photos from Kings Plaza and Fieldstone Plaza: