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Friday, December 9, 2022
Former Mori Gardens property could be a farmers’ market, Marotta says

The former Mori Gardens property could become a temporary farmers' market or something similar, says developer Benny Marotta, who purchased the 26-acre property in 2020 for $5 million.

This week, most of the buildings on the commercial portion of the property were demolished to make way for new plans.

Marotta said the long-term plan isn't set, but that for now his companies are looking at a short-term use for the site. He intends to use the 50,000 square feet that Mori operated on for a “low-impact” retail-wholesale operation, he told The Lake Report.

Rino Mostacci, a spokesperson for Marotta, said it could be a produce market and might involve landscape-related sales.

“We might consider a farmers' market, a produce market, that kind of food-oriented retail wholesale operation,” he said.

The idea is to do “something that's kind of related to what Mori did but also reflects the needs of the community.”

“It was historically Mori's, and Mori's had a retail-wholesale landscaping operation with about 50,000 square feet,” Mostacci said.

“In the short term, we're simply looking to repurpose that amount of building space into a land use that is kind of similar, somewhat of an extension of what Mori's used to do.”

Marotta is keeping options open for the long-term.

The land is technically part of the greenbelt, but has been used as a commercial property for many years.

“I wouldn't say that we're necessarily looking at a greenbelt amendment because we know that that's not something that's easily done. But we do want to work with the region and the town and other property owners along the corridor to see what the best sort of solution is in terms of a long-term strategy and vision for that corridor leading into the Old Town,” Mostacci said, adding Mori Gardens had been able to operate as a non-conforming use.

“They pre-dated the current bylaw, the current zoning regulations, so we are trying to maintain that status and utilize the existing building space and the uses that were there as a baseline for any additional uses that we want to introduce.”

Marotta said he hopes the town and region will work with his companies to sever the historically commercial portion of the land for commercial use, so it “benefits the area.”

For now, the focus is on beautifying the property, as it is a main corridor into Old Town, he said.

Mostacci said the property could be in use by summer.

“We left some buildings up that we can immediately reoccupy with suitable uses. So, you know, we could have somebody in there by summertime. By the fall for sure.”

While there aren't any candidates yet for the property, he said they hope to work with people in town.

“Ideally we'd like to partner with folks in the community, in the agricultural community.”