One of Hatboro’s largest vacant buildings could be open for business again soon, an official confirmed.
An agreement of sale was reached for the long-shuttered Big Marty’s property situated at 317 S. York Road late last week, Hatboro Main Street Manager Stephen Barth told Patch.
Barth would only say that two investors were in the process of acquiring the 10,000-square-foot building and 54-space parking lot and that settlement was slated for 45 days.
“They asked not to release anything until that point,” Barth said, refusing to disclose the purchase price, or what’s in store for the former carpet shop.
He did quash rumors that Trader Joe’s was coming to town. The grocery store chain, along with “at least” 20 other interested parties, had looked at the property, but said they were not interested, according to Barth.
When asked if the site would eventually house an Aaron’s rent-to-own furniture and electronics store, Barth said, “I can’t say,” adding only that the structure would be used for a “commercial retail use.”
Prior to the agreement of sale, Barth said other prospective buyers had envisioned “all sorts of things,” including a mixed-use development with apartments on top and retail on the bottom. Most interested in the property were considering commercial and office uses, but some were looking at automotive facilities – which are not permitted under the existing zoning, he said.
For the last year, Barth said he’s actively been helping realtor Rona Waters – whom he said is the daughter of Big Marty’s owner - interest prospective buyers in the property. Waters did not return a call seeking comment.
Seeing the former Big Marty’s on the way to reopening is a step in the right direction for the borough, Barth said. Coupled with the opening of nearly 50 new businesses over the last year, an ongoing expansion at , the conversion of the former Wendy’s to and the , the pending sale of the Big Marty’s property is something to make the community “really proud.”
“Big Marty’s makes Hatboro feel empty because it’s such a big, noticeable building,” Barth said. “Filling those key anchor properties is very beneficial to the borough.”
While the benefits might be obvious, the news of the pending property transfer might not have been as apparent. Hatboro Borough Council President John Zygmont said he had “no information” that the Big Marty’s property had been sold.
“I have heard the same rumors,” Zygmont said, referring to claims that readers posted on Patch about the store becoming either a Trader Joe’s or an Aaron’s. “I have no idea whether either of those parties is involved.”
Along with no longer having to look at an abandoned property, Barth said the other positive to finding a buyer for the Big Marty’s site is that fewer vacancies will help to drive property values up. In Hatboro, the average lease rate is about $10 per square foot, as compared to $25 to $45 per square foot in Newtown and Doylestown, he said.
When Barth first came on the scene a little more than a year ago, many of the buildings on North York Road, in the vicinity of the New Galaxy Diner, were empty. That is no longer the case.
Now, instead of having more vacancies than buyers, the opposite has occurred, he said.
“We have to turn people away,” he said. “People have certain needs and you can’t fill it because you don’t have the open spots anymore.”