NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey signaled Monday she may seek to help resolve the dispute over UMass Dartmouth’s abrupt exit from the Star Store building in downtown New Bedford.

The state university’s unexpected August announcement that it would move its College of Visual & Performing Arts out of the building has led to an epic round of recriminations in the Whaling City, with finger-pointing between UMass brass, state lawmakers, the mayor and the developer. Many have expressed concern about the decision’s potential effect on the vitality of downtown.

“Something doesn’t add up here,” Jack Spillane of the New Bedford Light wrote in a recent column.

Some members of New Bedford’s legislative delegation have suggested the governor should get involved, since UMass leaders have blamed the decision on an end to itemized state funding as well as apparent signals that the university shouldn’t follow through on a plan to acquire the property.

Healey spokesperson Karissa Hand declined to answer a series of specific questions from 12 News about the Star Store situation, but said in a statement, “Our administration is committed to supporting the economic vitality of New Bedford and the region.”

“We have heard the concerns raised by local officials and the community, and we continue to be in discussion about the best steps forward for the Star Store building,” Hand said.

Ted Nesi ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.