Newburyport, Big Box Stores R Us

In March 2007 Newburyport had a “Buy Local” campaign.  The initiators of the Buy Local campaign got burnt out because they were told no big box store (which wasn’t what they were actually talking about) would ever come to Newburyport.

On Pond Street there used to be two local hangouts/meeting places for the community–Express Video and White Hen Pantry.  In the spring of 2010, New England Development, who owns that property, along with over 50 retail properties in downtown Newburyport and along the waterfront, did not renew the lease of Express Video and then did not renew the lease of White Hen Pantry.  (Thank goodness for David Hall and the Tannery Marketplace, who gave both business a place to go and thrive.  White Hen Pantry is now The Black Duck.)

And New England Development let CVS expand, and in my mind Newburyport has it’s very own small Walmart, big box CVS store, right in the “upper” downtown area right next to our very scenic Bartlett Mall.

Fowles News Store and Soda Shop (photo courtesy of the City of Newburyport)
Fowles News Store and Soda Shop (photo courtesy of the City of Newburyport)

Again, the folks who brought you this great big huge big box store within walking distance of Newburyport’s waterfront, own over 50 retail properties in downtown Newburyport and along the waterfront, including the iconic Folwle’s news store and soda shop.

And it appears that the leases for Fowles news store and the soda shop may not be renewed (I think that this is nicely understated).

Will New England Development demolish Fowles?  of course not.  Do they care about keeping this iconic Newburyport place its own iconic self?  Judging by New England Development’s actions up on Pond Street, preserving local hang outs, used by the everyday citizens of Newburyport–quite possibly not the case.

These people own most of downtown Newburyport and properties along the waterfront.  The Urban Renewal Plan has expired and there is now no protection for downtown Newburyport.  Wouldn’t you like a little insurance policy for downtown Newburyport?  I sure sure would.  And the best insurance policy is a Local Historic District (LHD).