Wait and hope

Published 10:01 pm Thursday, August 10, 2017

So far, the commercial development that was promised at Obici Place on North Main Street has been a bust. There are plans, officials say, for an Aldi supermarket there, and developers are working to attract other retail tenants for the as-yet un-built strip mall that was promised when the Economic Development Authority approved the sale of the site over the objections of a vocal group that sought some other use for the property. But none of those things has made it out of the planning stage.

Many of those folks worried that the apartment complex that now sits on the property would cause traffic and other problems in the area. The jury is still out on whether those fears will come to fruition, but it’s clear that the commercial draw of the property has fallen short of expectations.

On Wednesday, the EDA approved changes to the contract with Meridian Obici — changes that are designed to help the developer market the property to commercial tenants.

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It’s frustrating to the many people who expressed their concerns when the matter was before City Council a few years ago to see this process drag on, with only the apartments to show for the trouble. And it’s frustrating to see the contract amended so soon after it was signed.

Suffolk surely had a need for more rental inventory, but the pitch that was made to the city presented the commercial aspect — which was to include businesses and restaurants of a higher quality than the run of the mill — and the failure of developers to accomplish that part of their plan without concessions could easily have been foreseen.

Economic development officials continue to hold that low-end retail — mattress stores are the example they use — will not be allowed on the property. At this point, unfortunately, we can only wait and hope.