A lot of us are very concerned about Stephen Karp and what he has in mind for Newburyport, MA.
I decided to contact Grant Sanders the host of www.yakon.com, a website which many consider to be the place to find out what is really going on around Nantucket, about his impressions of Stephen Karp.
Mr. Sanders graciously replied to my email, and this is what he had to say:
I have not had any 1:1 contact with Mr. Karp, but i can tell you what I know. He seems to understand the value of Nantucket. It’s uniqueness. It’s specialness. All that notwithstanding, we don’t trust outsiders here much and passed a chain-store ban here in the historic district and it will most likely be signed by the Attny General later this year.
He has raised rents 15-19% (according to published reports) here since purchasing the former Winthrop holdings (approximately 2/3rds of the commercial property in the historic district here). He has also dumped a few tenants in order to make room for other tenants. Nothing substantial has changed here, however. No Versace. No Gucci. No Mall brands.
The downtown here is changing, however, because of the rising rents. The artsy crafty stores and clothing spots are being squeezed out by real estate companies and galleries — two kinds of businesses that can actually afford the rents due to the high price of the stuff they sell. One friend with a clothing store is suffering.
Still too early to tell what the impact of Karp will be here, but one thing is certain. If there is money to be made you’ll attract him or someone like him. Best protect your community by initiating a chain ban and some controls over your community retail space. We’ve been toying with the idea of a commercial real estate bank along the lines of your Land Bank. Worth looking into.”
(Editor’s note: I have no idea what a “Land Bank” is.)