Former Wilson’s president prioritizing local market in building sale

  • Wilson’s Department Store on Main Street in Greenfield is officially on the market. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Former Wilson’s Department Store President Kevin J. O’Neil refers to an old picture of the store in his office in Greenfield in November 2019. Wilson’s closed in January 2020, shortly after O’Neil announced his plans to retire. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 10/28/2021 5:27:34 PM

GREENFIELD — The building housing the now-vacant Wilson’s Department Store is officially on the market.

The property — which includes the parking lot behind the building, and two lots on Chapman Street — is priced at $3.95 million, according to Mark Abramson, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Commercial Upton-Massamont Realtors. Although officially for sale since earlier this month, the property won’t be listed on the open market until the end of November, he said.

“We have shown it probably three times since coming on the market,” Abramson said. “We’re trying to capitalize on the local market.”

Kevin J. O’Neil, former president of the 137-year-old retail store that was once anchor to Greenfield’s downtown, said Franklin Community Co-op’s continued interest in renting space in the building to expand its Green Fields Market is one of his primary motivations for prioritizing the local market first.

“I’d love to see them still move in there and I think a local builder would be more sensitive to that, versus somebody outside the area would not make that a priority if they had a different vision for the building,” he explained. “They need a bigger home from where they are now.”

O’Neil added that local people are more familiar with the market and the area.

“I think they would have a different view of what might happen to the building,” he said.

Abramson noted that the whole building is open, until a lease is signed with the co-op.

“I think even a developer interested in developing the upper floors would certainly be interested in the co-op as an anchor tenant,” he said.

Wilson’s Department Store, which was one of the last independent, family-owned department stores in the country, closed in January 2020, shortly after O’Neil announced his plans to retire. O’Neil started at Wilson’s in 1981, working his way up to the top position when his father-in-law, Robert S. Reid Jr., retired.

O’Neil’s personal vision for the property, he said, would be housing on the upper floors and some type of commercial retail on the lower floors.

“I think it’s an opportunity to really bring in some economic activity to the downtown — not only through construction and development of the building, but in its long-term use,” O’Neil said. “It could be a very important hinge to the future of the town if something good can happen there.”

To inquire with Abramson about buying the building, call 413-665-1536.

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne




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