Abbey Grill, police station bids to open
Dave Souza|Herald News
The former Abbey Grill on Rock St.
Bids of at least $70,000 for the Abbey Grill and $60,360 for the old police station are about to hit the streets.
The Fall River Redevelopment Authority, granted a license to market and sell both vacant properties, on Thursday night approved setting up bid procedures. They’re based upon authority the City Council gave them last year and a letter from Mayor Will Flanagan to cut the bid minimum on the Abbey Grill in half.
Both historic properties have serious and costly renovation issues, and demolishing them has been an option considered — though unpopular to some.
Tentatively, bids would be opened at the Purchasing Department at 11 a.m. on April 30 for the Abbey Grill and on May 2 for the 158 Bedford St. police station, said attorney John Coughlin, FRRA legal counsel.
The century-old, four-story police station has been shuttered the past 17 years. The minimum bid reflects owed taxes and fees under private ownership.
Bid specifications for both could be available by March 25 at the Purchasing Department in Government Center, Coughlin said. By then, required bid advertising will begin running in the Central Register and local media.
The city sold the police station, across Bedford Street from the downtown fire station, six years ago. It’s been owned by a series of Florida interests after an initial sale of $160,000 to a former city resident now serving time in a Florida prison for swindling senior citizens in a mortgage scheme.
A different Florida owner deeded the property to the city last year after saying he could not afford to fix it up and develop it.
This is the second time in recent months the FRRA will put the Abbey Grill and Great Hall at 100 Rock St., built in 1875 as the Central Congregational Church — a church the infamous Lizzie Borden attended — out to bid.
On Feb. 15 the FRRA received one bid: $71,933.81.
That was precisely half of the $143,867.62 the administration of Mayor Will Flanagan instructed the FRRA to set to recoup past taxes and fees owed on the property after a mortgage foreclosure, bankruptcy and city take-over of the historic property.
The deed transfer came after the bank paid a portion of the owed taxes, $128,000.
The city’s consulting title attorney, Matthew Thomas, has maintained setting the bid at the taxes owed was the required and responsible action to take.
Some city councilors questioned whether anyone wanted the Abbey Grill, slated for the wrecking ball nearly 20 years ago before an activist group of citizens formed to preserve it.
Andrew Lombardi of Providence, a contractor of about 10 historic properties, including a 19th century Victorian home on High Street and the 18-room Edgewood Manor bed and breakfast in Cranston, R.I., issued the sole bid one month ago.
Lombardi, who’s been attempting to purchase the Abbey Grill for about a year, and has met with both bank officials and the city administration, said his bid reflected at least $500,000 he’d need to invest in the downtown property at 100 Rock St.
The FRRA, upon Coughlin’s advice, ruled Lombardi’s bid was “non-responsive.” That was due to the amount of the bid as well as the fact it was 10 minutes late and the required $7,000 check was made out to the incorrect entity.
Lombardi’s check actually was made out for his bid offer of $71,933.81 for reasons he never divulged.
About two weeks later, Flanagan wrote to the Redevelopment Authority stating, “During this process it has become clear there did not appear to be interest in purchasing the property for $143,000 in light of the perceived challenges in rehabilitating and redeveloping the property.”
He asked that new bid proposal requests be issued for $70,000.
“I think they’re getting reasonable now,” Lombardi quipped.
He claims to have had negotiations with the bank to acquire the property for $1. City officials contend it would have required payment of back taxes.
Email Michael Holtzman at firstname.lastname@example.org.