North Quabbin Commons fueling area economic growth

  • Recorder Staff/Domenic PoliTully Family Medicine, under Heywood Healthcare, opened in North Quabbin Commons in Athol on Aug. 21. A walk-in clinic is expected to open in the fall.

  • Recorder Staff/Domenic Poli The Wendy's restaurant in Athol's North Quabbin Commons is now open for business. It had a soft opening on Dec. 8.

  • Wendy’s restaurant in North Quabbin Commons in Athol. Recorder Staff/Domenic Poli

  • Recorder Staff/Domenic Poli The Wendy's restaurant in North Quabbin Commons in Athol is now open. It had a soft opening on Dec. 8.

  • Market Basket supermarket in Athol. Recorder file photo

  • Market Basket in Orange. Recorder/Paul Franz Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Friday, December 29, 2017

ATHOL – A grand opening ceremony on Monday is scheduled to welcome a Hobby Lobby to North Quabbin Commons and usher in a new year of expected growth in the shopping center on the east side of town.

The public is invited to the 9 a.m. opening of the 55,000-square-foot arts and crafts store that will sit at 223 Reservoir Drive, near a slew of other corporate locations such as a Starbucks, a Marshalls department store and a Market Basket supermarket. The commons is bustling with development, having had a Workers Credit Union location, a Wendy’s fast food restaurant, and Tully Family Medicine open their doors in the past four months.

The center also hosts other businesses and there are plans to open a cinema and a 110 Grill restaurant.

The commons is owned by DeMoulas Super Markets Inc.

Athol Town Manager Shaun A. Suhoski he thinks North Quabbin Commons will continue to have a positive ripple effect across the region.

“Taken together with Athol’s ongoing and substantial investment in education and cultural facilities — through a new elementary school, major expansion of the public library and planned improvements at the high school — the housing market should continue to blossom by offering affordable options to families that commute east towards the metro Boston area,” he said in an email.

Growth in property values throughout Athol and the shopping center’s recent development have managed to help lower the town’s single tax rate by 83 cents per $1,000 of assessed value from the current fiscal year. The rate will drop from the FY17 rate of $20.40 to $19.57. This reduction can also be attributed to the renovation of the McDonald’s restaurant near the Athol-Orange town line, an increase in building permits, ongoing renovations at Athol Savings Bank in the downtown area, and increased employment that have followed decades of economic hardship in the area.

“My experience has been that state and local governments must function as partners towards overcoming challenges rather than an obstacles to responsible development,” Suhoski said in his email. “I am pleased that the extremely committed staff and elected officials here in Athol understand our role and strive to work toward our common goal of a healthy and thriving community.”

Suhoski also said new use of the former Union Twist Drill Co. mill campus could position the town for more success down the road. The Athol Selectboard voted in October to sign a letter of non-opposition for Herbology, Inc., a medical marijuana nonprofit that wants to move into property at 134 Chestnut Hill Ave. Herbology is a medical marijuana applicant with a provisional certificate. Sea Hunter Therapeutics, a for-profit company, provides capital and intellectual property to Herbology, the license holder.

Herbology could potentially create 500 jobs in Athol.

Petersham resident Vincent “Bill” Purple is the president and owner of the L.P. Athol Corp., which bought the Union Twist Drill Co. building in 1986.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or
413-772-0261, ext. 258.
On Twitter: @DomenicPoli