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Dover Waterfront Land Transfer Passes Key Hurdle

NEW BEDFORD, MASS (June 2009) — The deal to develop the City’s waterfront is no longer just an “agreement to agree” after officials signed the contract that will allow the developers to begin seeking permits for the landmark project on City property.

City Manager Mike Joyal, Dover Housing Authority Executive Director Jack Buckley, and Mark Dickinson of Dickinson Development Corp signed the Land Disposition Agreement last week, starting the three-year clock for Dickinson to officially complete the transaction and take on the property.

Although the two parties signed off on the deal last week, before the May 31 deadline, Dickinson completed the last step Monday when he arrived at the waterfront site with a $100,000 check in hand. The check will essentially act as a deposit, which the City will place in escrow and eventually use toward the $1 Million in cash the developers will pay the City for the land.

For the group, which has seen the expected signing of the agreement, or the LDA, pushed back several times since the original deadline in late 2007, the occasion marked one of the major milestones in efforts between the City and Dickinson that date back to August 2005.

“The City has come a long way and we are pleased Dickinson Development stayed with the project,” City Manager Mike Joyal said.

Dickinson said there was “no doubt” the deal would be signed, even while there were “a few bumps” along the way, but he added that it was still satisfying to make the deal official.

“Until we signed the LDA, there was no final agreement – just an agreement to agree” to move forward with the project, Dickinson said.

The economic recession makes it difficult to establish a firm timeline for the rest of the project, Dickinson said, but he said he will be keeping a close eye on economic indicators to determine the best time to begin building. “As soon as there is an obvious recovery occurring, we’ll get to work,” Dickinson said. “We’re not putting this on the shelf.”

Before shovels can even hit the ground there is the layered state and local approval process that Dickinson Development must complete.

Dickinson said his company has been discussing the project with the State Department of Environmental Services and he suspects local knowledge of the project will help when the plans finally hit the Planning Board. But that can still be a long way off.

Under the LDA, Dickinson has three years to close on the land and pay the remainder of the $1 Million. After the deed is handed over, the developers have 30 days to begin construction on the first phase of the project and will mostly consist of commercial properties and must include the creation of the two-acre waterfront park that will remain City land.

Despite the time from now until groundbreaking, Dickinson said he anticipates few changes to the plans. And the changes that are being make will likely be “small” and architectural details or perhaps an adjustment in the size of the office building or similar changes to accommodate market demand, he said.

While Dickinson will pay the city $1 Million in cash for the property, the total purchase price is more than $4.6 Million, which includes $1.8 Million for environmental improvements and moare than $3 Million to construct the waterfront park.

Founded in 1980, Dickinson Development is a full-service commercial real estate development and project management consulting firm based in Quincy, Mass.

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