SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) — It could be up to Seekonk residents to decide two major plans for a former movie theater property in Seekonk.
The old Showcase Cinemas multiplex on Route 114A (at 800 Fall River Avenue) has been closed since 2010. Charles Tapalian, a developer who used to own adult entertainment clubs in Providence, bought the property back in October for $3.7 million.
Tapalian is proposing a 102-unit apartment complex be built on the back half of the property, complete with a swimming pool, gym and basketball courts — an expansion of an existing complex. A fish farm was also part of the concept, but that element was scrubbed after residents lodged protest. Estimated revenue from the apartment complex would be $275,000 a year.
Separately, a businessman from Maine, Jamie Crumb, has proposed turned the old theater building in the front half of the property into a cannabis processing plant, which would supply multiple dispensaries around Massachusetts. Tapalian’s estimate of the tax revenue for the plant is much higher than the apartments: $6 million every year.
The cinema site is not zoned for either proposal, and two separate zoning changes would be required for the projects to come to fruition.
Right now, the town has a zone established for medical and recreational marijuana in the industrial area near the Seekonk Speedway, after voters approved it at a recent town meeting. Another vote would be needed to extend the district to include the cinema site.
At a town planning board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22, the planning board will hold a hearing of zoning changes related to the property. On Wednesday, Jan. 23, at the town’s board of selectmen meeting at Seekonk Town Hall at 7 p.m., the board will discuss extending the town’s marijuana zone to the cinema property; one step that could help to pave the way for a marijuana processing plant there.
The following week, at a special town meeting set for Monday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at Seekonk High School, voters will hold a preliminary vote on zoning the rear of the cinema property for apartments.
Resident reactions were mixed Tuesday night. While some were in favor of apartments rather than a cultivation plant, others were concerned more with the big picture.
“As long as they run everything through the town council, and the community has a word,” he’d be satisfied, said Steve Sears, a Seekonk resident, on Tuesday night. “I don’t know what it’s going to do about traffic, but if it’s going to improve the quality of life in the community, then I’m in support of it.”
Crumb is inviting residents to an informational meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m. at the Dublin Rose pub at 940 Fall River Avenue, for an outline of the plans.
This story has been updated to clarify that the condominium proposal and the retail marijuana proposal would require two separate zoning changes.