Meadowbrook Mall Completes Land Deal for Nearly 30 Acres at Cost Exceeding Half A Million Dollars
By Jeff Toquinto on June 10, 2017
Many years ago, the owner of the company that operates the Meadowbrook Mall – William M. Cafaro of the Cafaro Company – began looking at doing a land transaction with a friend from Harrison County. That friend was Clarksburg’s Bernard J. Folio.
Although both men have since passed, work on the deal that began many years early, continued. Recently, the deal came to fruition.
And it could be a good signal for a new stage of growth at Bridgeport’s Meadowbrook Mall.
The Folio Family LLC recently sold a parcel behind Dick’s Sporting Goods to the “Meadowbrook Mall Co.” for $566,527.50. According to Kathy Folio, speaking on behalf of the LLC, the land transaction involves 29.766 acres.
“We’re very excited to complete a project that was begun by our father, Bernard J. Folio and the Cafaro family some time ago,” said Folio. “Our families have had a long-term relationship and everything was done then and now by way of a handshake.”
So what does that mean for the mall?
“I want to emphasize there are no immediate plans for the property or even a solid plan for the property at this moment,” said Cafaro Director of Corporate Communications Joe Bell. “That doesn’t mean something won’t happen there and we hope something does. I can say that because, as of now, we’re still in growth mode.”
While the mall recently lost an anchor store in Sears and retail outlets are being hammered by online competition, the Meadowbrook Mall still remains the City of Bridgeport’s retail anchor, providing tens of thousands of dollars in B&O taxes annually. The mall is also still in the 90 percent capacity range, officials have said.
The land gives the mall something it hasn’t had the opportunity to do for some time – expand. In recent years, the mall used every available piece of property in the flattened area to expand parking. As many that have shopped there during the Christmas holiday season know, sometimes more cars are on site than parking spots. While this may not alleviate that issue, it does provide options for growth.
“I can’t speak to their plans, but the property should be relatively easy to make developable,” said Folio about the property that several years ago was a golf driving range. “A lot of the land is flat and there is already infrastructure up to it.”
It is also in the Bridgeport city limits and is zoned Business-2. A B-2 zoning designation allows for large scale commercial business, which would likely meet the needs of any type of mall-related development.
Bell agreed with Folio that this deal has been many years in the making. In fact, the matter was discussed by Bridgeport City Council in January of 2013 and the acquisition of the land. Bell said the closing of the purchase is good on many fronts for the mall.
“The idea is to have it available for potential future development. It’s a contingency that we would like to have because it’s adjacent to the mall and you can take a quick look and see there’s no place to expand other than that property,” said Bell. “There’s always the potential for future expansion, but since we don’t know what this business will look like 10, 20 or 30 years down the road, it’s a good idea to have the ability to act on your plans or adjust them. If you have land in place that makes things easier.”
Bell said the acquisition falls in line with the Cafaro Company’s eye for the future. He said in the 70-year history, the founder and his sons and grandchildren have always kept an eye on the future.
“They knew then and they know now that conditions can change and change fast. Having options is the best way to handle changing conditions,” said Bell. “We’d like to think there will be development there because we’re still in growth mode. We have a great deal of faith in the Bridgeport-Clarksburg marketplace despite the ups and downs you see in retail markets. In the face of that and the cyclical conditions that are always prevalent, that area has always maintained underlying strength and that’s valuable in this business.”
Editor’s Note: Top photo shows the entrance to the property that was acquired, while Joe Bell is shown in the middle. Bottom photo is an aerial shot that shows a portion of the property acquired at the bottom right of the picture