Apple Tree Mall is Purchased Will Undergo New Renovations

Developer George Vernet, owner of Vernet Properties out of Salem, Massachusetts, recently purchased Londonderry’s Apple Tree Mall and has big plans to improve it.

Vernet Properties purchased the 195,000 square- foot mall, which rests on over 20 acres of land, for a price of $6 million. Vernet Properties also purchased and revamped the Raymond Shopping Center about 14 years ago.

The company had only 45 days to plan before closing on the property about two weeks ago. “It didn’t give us too much time,” Vernet said. “One of our major obstacles was to get everything completed that quickly, and we didn’t have a lot of time to plan for things because of it.”

While fixing up the property will take some time, Vernet explained that they have already taken the first steps in doing so. A roofing contractor is being hired, and facade and asphalt work are being planned.

“We’ll probably start with the Shaw’s lot,” he said.

Landscaping and connecting to town sewerage are on the agenda as well, along with signage and natural gas.

Town Manager Kevin Smith explained that the mall has been in disrepair for some time now after having gone into foreclosure and losing many of its tenants. “It needs a facelift, but I think [Vernet] is going to work very hard to fill as many of its spaces as possible.”

When asked what his company found attractive about this property, Vernet explained that there is good value in it. “We typically purchase things that we call value add properties, and then we keep them long-term to add value to them,” he said. “We did that with the Raymond Shopping Center, and we plan on doing the same thing here.”

In terms of long-term goals, Vernet said that he hopes to make the property viable and vibrant again as it once was.

“We’ve been familiar with it for a long time,” he said, “and we typically buy properties that have issues. This one will require several million dollars worth of work for improvements.”

Working with Andrew Levy of Londonderry’s The MEG Companies to find tenants for the mall is also a large part of Vernet’s work to renovate it.

“He’s been making a lot of cold calls and talking to a lot of people,” Vernet explained. Next week, they plan on attending the International Council of Shopping Centers event in Boston to speak about the property. This event focuses on education, networking, and deal-making with other businesses in the region.

“Because of the fallout of the retail industry,” Vernet said, “we’re looking at more things like entertainment centers, and potentially a gym. We’ll talk to major retailers to see if we can land some of those, but we’re also looking at three different restaurants: Thai, Italian, and Mexican.”

The entire project will take several years to complete, but Vernet is hopeful that he and his company will be able to make the mall profitable and attractive once again.

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