Ocean State Job Lot purchases Bennington Square

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BENNINGTON — The region's largest closeout retailer, Ocean State Job Lot, has announced that it was the winner of last week's auction of the Bennington Square shopping center, and plans to install a store at the site.

Matt Blanchette, account manager with Regan Communications Group of Providence, Rhode Island, confirmed the $750,000 sale in an email Friday evening.

"We are delighted to have the winning bid to purchase the Bennington Square shopping center, and are looking forward to becoming an important part of this great community," said John Conforti, chief financial officer of the company, in a statement provided in the email. "We plan to make a significant investment in the property, starting with the addition of an Ocean State Job Lot store."

Conforti was unavailable for further comment on Monday.

"I think that's fantastic," Stuart Hurd, Bennington town manager, said of Ocean State Job Lot's plans. "That's going to help revitalize that center. It's going to generate traffic, it's going to generate sales."

Ocean State Job Lot opened its first store in 1977 in North Kingstown, R.I., and has since expanded to 139 stores in New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to the company's website. It opened a location in North Adams, Mass., in August 2013.

Mark O'Connor and Evan Portno were the company's representatives at a foreclosure auction on the Bennington Square property last Thursday. The property, which includes the center and about 24 acres of land, was sold for the opening bid of $750,000.

The auction was conducted at the property at 95 Bennington Square early Thursday afternoon.

The property was sold in "as-is, where-is" condition. People's United Bank holds the mortgage on the property.

Terms of the sale included a $25,000 deposit required to bid, in cash or certified funds. The winning bidder was also required to increase that to equal 5 percent of the purchase price within five days, and to close on the property within 45 days or 10 days from when the court confirms the sale, whichever is later.

The property is about 55 percent occupied. It contains about 150,0000 square feet of rentable building, including two freestanding "pad" sites, according to the property summary given to bidders.

Auctioneer Mike Carey of Tranzon Auction Properties characterized the auction as a "great sale."

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"We had really tremendous interest in it," he said of the property last Thursday. "Retail is not dead. It's just changing."

Seven tenants occupy the space, including JC Penney, Staples, Olympia Sports, Jay's Hallmark, Label Shopper, Burger King and People's United Bank.

Vacancies include the former Kmart space, which is around 55,000 square feet.

The property's assessed value is $3.65 million, and it has annual taxes of $105,710.07, according to the property summary.

Bennington Square has suffered multiple losses in recent years, as its Kmart, which had opened in March 1979, closed in 2018 and its Radio Shack store closed in 2017. The Maurices store in the plaza has also closed.

In February 2019, the Banner learned the plaza's Payless ShoeSource store would also close, as the Kansas-based discount shoe retailer, publicly confirmed it would close all its 2,100 stores in the United States.

Bennington Square is owned by Bennington Square Partners, of 120 White Plains Road, Suite 110 in Tarrytown, New York, in the care of Juster Development Corporation, the town assessor's office has confirmed.

Juster did not return a request for comment Monday.

Bennington Square Partners is current on its taxes, according to the town collector's office.

Work on Bennington Square began April 17, 1978, by Burgess Brothers of Bennington.

Ocean State Job Lot opened its first store in 1977 in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, and has since expanded to 139 stores in New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to the company's website.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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