Auburn Gets Serious Interest For Vacant Buildings

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Route 12 in Auburn could have a bright future as Hometown Bank recently opened a branch in a vacant building. Photo Credit: Rick Sobey

AUBURN, Mass. – While there are numerous vacant buildings along the Route 12 Southbridge Street corridor, Auburn Town Planner Adam Burney said the town is starting to see more people express interest in those empty properties.

“There haven’t been any solid purchases or sales yet, but we are seeing significant interest there,” Burney said. “We are seeing more people explore opportunities from the Massachusetts Turnpike to the Auburn Mall. There is serious interest for the corridor.”

Since there are no finalized sales yet, Burney said he couldn’t reveal the businesses that are looking to move into the vacant spots. However, he said the properties that could be filled include the former Bickford’s, Pier One, Mattresses Factory Direct and Window Fashions and Fabrics.

Burney said there are a variety of reasons for more vacant buildings on Route 12 than Route 20 in Auburn. First of all, he said, Route 12 is more of a local road with smaller commercial spaces.

“There tend to be more local chains on Route 12, which get more affected by drastic economic shifts,” Burney said. “Whereas larger companies on Route 20 can weather hard times, the Route 12 businesses have a harder time riding out tough economic times.”   

However, Route 12 might have a bright future as Hometown Bank recently opened a branch at 569 Southbridge St.. Town Manager Julie Jacobson said renovating and re-opening a vacant building could help cause a domino effect for new businesses on Southbridge Street.

“It should bring some vitality to the area and hopefully start stimulating some development along the Route 12 corridor,” Jacobson said. “You see one business opening and one business succeeding and other businesses follow.”

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No mention about the planning and zoning board making it tough for businesses like the run around that drove Lowes away? Hmmph.

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