The challenges Bierbrier faced in developing the recently sold 64,500 sf freestanding Stop & Shop at Montello Plaza in Brockton included land assembly, local approval for a zone change and overlay district, securing Tax Increment Financing (TIF), substantial union picketing, unexpected site costs, site contamination, extreme weather conditions and late material deliveries.
The earliest challenge was to secure agreement and complete the three-parcel assembly. Two of the sellers were anxious to close on the transaction quickly, while the projected timeline for the development was measured in years. Bierbrier developed a strong personal relationship with these owners and their advisors and was able to successfully negotiated the acquisition of these two properties.
With a commitment from Stop & Shop to locate on this assemblage and, working closely with the Brockton City Council and its economic development staff over an 18 month period. Bierbrier succeeded in rezoning the property, creating an overlay district for retail use, and secured a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) agreement for this development. Because Bierbrier’s plan satisfied the need for a supermarket in the area (something the city had been trying to achieve for 25 years), eliminated a blighted factory site, and provided jobs and real estate tax benefits to the city, all permits were granted without opposition.
Development challenges that occurred during the construction process included: expensive increases in site work costs despite substantial engineering and due diligence during the pre-development stage; unexpected contamination found; severe weather conditions forcing a two week job site shut down; and despite being an open shop job, the project was faced with daily union picketing. Furthermore, the schedule for steel deliveries was seriously compromised and, finally, the traffic signalization permit, which took 18 months to secure, was not issued in time for the opening of the store. Ultimately these issues were resolved through effective management of the construction process and creative resolution by the Bierbrier team, who were able to secure cooperation from all parties involved.
One aspect of the development that was the least challenging was the placement of the short and long term debt on the project, largely because of the credit strength of Stop & Shop and its parent company, Ahold, and the Bierbrier track record in development, coupled with its strong balance sheet.