Selectmen to address bid on Fayville Hall by Deerfoot owner – Monday (Updated)

Above: The man who worked with the Town to save the Burnett House is now looking to make a deal to save Fayville Hall. (photo left cropped from Facebook, right by Beth Melo)

The man responsible for restoring the historic Burnett estate is now applying to purchase another building on town preservationists’ priority list.

Jon Delli Priscoli responded to the RFP for purchasing Fayville Hall. He is looking to convert the building into an antiques shop and fine arts gallery.

Some residents are sure to support a proposal to preserve Fayville Village’s historic community center. The proposal also seems to accommodate the parking needs for Recreation across the way. Still, given past comments on the blog, I’m sure some will balk at his offering price of $21K. (Although it is more than 3x higher than the previous bidder’s in the first round.)

The Board of Selectmen is scheduled to discuss and potentially vote on the proposal this Monday night. (Click here for the agenda and packet.)

[Editor’s Note: Some readers will realize I haven’t finished fully covering items discussed at the last BOS meeting yet. That needs to wait for a later story. With the potential vote, I decided the item on the board’s next agenda takes precedence.]

Priscoli’s bid, as owner of First Colony Development Co, Inc, states intent beyond simple preservation. The bid includes renovation to capture a vintage Victorian look. Some highlights:

  • Restoring a period correct exterior – front door pediment will be rebuilt with columns, proper shutters will be installed, flag pole will be re-installed, roof and walls re-shingled, proper moldings and corner boards installed.
  • Interior renovation – first floor gutted (except for stairways) to make one large open room as the building was configured in 1911. The ceiling will be vintage tin of the period with school-house lights, making the building a period icon of the early 20th century.
  • New landscaping – currently landscaping will be completely eliminated and replaced with new trees, perennial flowers, and rose bushes along with areas of lawn

Preservation was the priority raised by commenters at Town Meeting who initially opposed articles to “dispose” of the municipal property. Selectmen swayed voters by agreeing to follow an RFP process that would take that into consideration. A committee formed to work on the RFP priorities raised Recreation’s concerns. Accommodating Town parking needs was to be given equal weight in judging proposals. 

Recreation was seeking some parking for the playground across the street and the baseball diamond. That meant some general parking during the day, but also occasional needs for extensive parking during baseball games. Priscoli’s bid states:

8 spaces will be permanently licensed to the town for the playground across the street. Parking will only be fully utilized on auction days. At other times there will be numerous spaces for use beyond the licensed eight spaces for the patrons of the playground.

The proposal points to Priscoli’s background expertise in preservation projects. Of course, that includes the work being done on “Deerfoot”, the former Burnett property at 84 Main Street. (You can check on that progress courtesy of Friends of Burnett-Garfield House’s Facebook page.) The selectmen’s packet included endorsement letters from two officials who worked with Priscoli on the Town’s $970K investment in a Preservation Restriction on that estate.

Advisory’s John Rooney and Joe Hubley of the Historical Commission both submitted letters of support. Rooney, a former selectman, was a point person in negotiating the agreement and securing Town Meeting votes. He wrote:

I moved to this Town for a variety of reasons, one of which was its bucolic character. The preservation of fayville Village Hall is of great consequence in this Town’s history, as it reflects our commitment to remember our history. To the extent Jon says it is his intention to advance that interest, his words have already proven reliable and trustworthy.

Historical continues to oversee Priscoli’s compliance with the Town’s agreement. Hubly wrote:

Fayville Hall has been an important part in the town’s history, culture, and heritage; it would be a shame to see it go to waste. It truly needs a lot of work, and Jon has the capability and resources to bring the Hall back to life. Imagine how beautiful Fayville Hall will be when he’s finished.

An initial RFP only garnered one application for $5K. It also promised preservation. In the end, timing requirements were too complicated to meet. Therefore, they didn’t need to  the pros vs opportunity costs. Instead, they launched a new RFP which they sought to better promote. 

Click here to view the application materials and letters from the meeting packet.

To read past coverage of Fayville Hall, click here.

Updated (11/20/2018 10:57 am): I fixed the spelling of Priscoli’s last name. In addition, I initially wrote that I wasn’t clear if the proposal was the only bid. I had misread a page in the agenda packet as being page 2 of the Golf Course bids. It was actually a list of responses to the RFP for Fayville Hall and listed the bid as the only response.

Updated (8/5/19 9:11 am): The former Burnett estate is being named simply “Deerfoot”, not “Deerfoot Estates” as I initially wrote.

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Louise Barron
5 years ago

Fayville Hall.This property could have sold for well over $300, 000.00, had it been marketed by a commercial broker, a suggestion I made many times on deaf ears, but we’d rather give Fayville Hall away for $21,000.00 to a man who we’re paying a ludicrous amount of money. 1,000,000.00 to preserve a dilapidated building, Burnett House. Did we get took. Now, what is this transaction going to cost us for Mr. Delli Priscolli to buy and reno Fayville. We have trouble maintaining the schools and other buildings that require renovation, a library, Putting the million toward the new police/fire station of course Neary School, fields, a junky 2nd rate elevator in the Town House (who ever approved that purchase). So that money emptied into the Burnett House is more important than the existing projects that need reno NOW. Could have used that cool million for the aforementioned projects. Oh no, more fun to waste our money, than use good practical and PRUDENT logical sense and spend conservatively. Don’t come to us for Fayville Hall. Let the BOS pay for it.

Neil Rossen
5 years ago

Avoid ploughing any more money into this project. I’ve worked there. It’s not worth preserving.

Michael Weishan
5 years ago

As the President of the Southborough Historical Society and a longtime former member of the Historical Commission, I think this is a splendid proposal that accommodates the town’s desire of preserving parking options, restoring the building’s facade and adding a much needed tax-generating business to the Town rolls. Full disclosure: The construction wing of my firm, the MDW Group Ltd, requested the RFP and toured the property with an eye to potentially developing several units of affordable housing. We determined this would not be a cost effective proposition, given the use demands of the site as well as the difficulties of getting the necessary variances, not to mention the vagaries of a draconian RFP. The price of 21K is fair given the costs involved in making this a viable property again—costs which will surely run well beyond 500K. JDP has a proven record—albeit with some tough negotiating—of coming to beneficial agreements with town boards and committees, and I have no doubt he will do the same for the Fayville Town Hall. This is a great deal for Southborough.

David Parry
5 years ago

How lucky this town is, to have such benefactors. The town’s character has been saved by a handful of individuals in the past, and now we have another — dedicated to historic preservation, and wealthy and generous enough to carry it out.

Concerned Voter
5 years ago

This property is reportedly selling for $21K BASED ON A PROPOSED USE THAT IS NOT ALLOWED (RETAIL) IN A RESIDENTIAL ZONE!!! RETAIL IS A PROHIBITED USE. This is incompetence beyond belief in my opinion.

Can anyone please read the appraisal? Who is managing this disposition process? THE PROPERTY CANNOT AND SHOULD NOT GO AT THAT PRICE. Is this intentional or not? Could this be property disposition mismanagement, steering(?) of a property – all or none of the above? What is happening here? Explanation please! Reader / taxpaying public: You be the judge and ask questions at the next public meetings.

The property is located in an RB Zone which allows the same uses as an RA zone , and both are RESIDENTIAL ZONES. Permitted uses can be found via the following link. RETAIL IS A PROHIBITED USE.

This makes no sense whatsoever. The property cannot and should not be sold based on bid price that is based upon an illegal, prohibited use, a use that is not allowed. Has someone been promised a retail use?? That would be illegal. The $21k bid price is based on a use that is prohibited. The $21k pricing has a faulty premise.

TO THE PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND OTHERS ENDORSING THIS DEAL: This is a taxpayer owned property. The marketing process must be competently managed.
In my opinion, this is simply unbelievable. The taxpayers are being taken again. Based on an old, outdated appraisal, this property appraised for $500,000, a half a million dollars! (Can anyone use any common sense here??? The land alone could well be worth more than $21k, the offered bid, based on sales in the surrounding neighborhood and in the appraisal.) Don’t you get it? It is IRRELEVANT what the ultimate proposed scenario is. The MARKET takes care of MARKET VALUE and the ultimate reversionary price due to the taxpayer. THE TAXPAYERS ARE OWED THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE based on the appraisal. Now it turns out that the $21k bid is based on a FALSE PREMISE, A PROHIBITED USE, AN ILLEGAL USE THAT IS NOT ALLOWED.

By way of illustrating example: if properly marketed, a family could purchase the property for residential use, thereby hypothetically garnering a higher price, based on residential sales in the neighborhood, and be happy to have the home and perhaps even meeting the façade, shared parking desire. Look at the prices of residential properties in the neighborhood !!

Those public officials who are responsible for the overseeing of this process and ENDORSING THIS TRANSACTION – REMEMBER THOSE NAMES – are putting forward a deal based on a prohibited, illegal use, a use not allowed via the current zoning. The taxpayers who own this property are owed an explanation.

BTW, the first round bidding process produced one bid, because the property was never properly marketed on the open market for an appropriate period of exposure time in the first instance. The property never even had a “For Sale” sign. That is the reason for one bid and a low bid. There was virtually NO DIFFERENCE in marketing to the second round, as the town took the exact same steps reportedly.

The appraisal was ordered by Mr. Purple, the Town Administrator. No update was ever ordered. The value was based on rents and sales comparables that were up to FIVE YEARS OLD (2013). It is 2018. The appraisal makes no reference to or tests retail use, such as an ANTIQUES SHOP / GALLERY (RETAIL USE) Why are retail comparable sales not mentioned or used in the appraisal? RETAIL USE IS ILLEGAL! PEOPLE SHOULD BE FIRED AND/OR REMOVED OVER THIS ONE, IN MY HUMBLE OPINION. Does anyone even understand what they are ordering and reading with the appraisal?

Importantly, Mr. Kolenda wants to promote Mr. Purple to Town Manager? Say what? Unbelievable.

IF THE PROPERTY WAS WORTH $21,000 IT WOULD HAVE APPRAISED FOR $21,000 !! This is because the costs to renovate or remediate would have been built into the value. THAT’S NOT WHAT WAS REPORTED IN THE APPRAISAL. The appraisal came up with an “As Is” value of $500,000. Who really thinks this property is worth $21k??? It is not worth $21k because retail is not an allowed use, again a false premise underlying that bid.

As an important side note, again, take a look at the supporters / endorsers / these genius “deal makers.” And remember those names when this property ultimately sells again, and it likely will at some point.

Also, recall that the taxpayers gave $1m (?!!) to this same proposed bidder for 84 Main Street (same supporters / endorsers) — we gave $1m to a millionaire — all while the annual town budget and taxes are being increased by 10%. Again, simply unbelievable. TOWN RESIDENTS: REMEMBER THIS ONE. Push these “deal makers” (that’s a euphemism) out for good. Time for a big change.

Importantly, proper marketing means putting it in the hands of a marketing professional who places it on the market in various ways and actively markets the property to all prospective buyers that comprise the possible market. This avoids the possibility of “steering” a town asset worth more than a mere pittance, avoids the result of a limited buyer group, and avoids a low or no bid situation.



Generally speaking, legitimate buyers, when considering that there could be a screwed up, half baked non-marketing effort, that entire messy possibility can and would likely chill a buyer’s interest, resulting in not wanting to get involved in a potentially controversial scenario.

In my opinion the following should happen:
1) This property should be remarketed properly using a professional marketing agent immediately. THE TAXPAYERS ARE OWED MORE THAN $21K FOR THIS PROPERTY.
2) Those responsible for what has just transpired should be fired or removed.
3) Do not allow improper influence. Do not allow CURRENT town officials to influence public town business, the disposition process, case in point, price based on an illegal use. They do not belong anywhere near public office, in any financial decision making or disposition process. For those who have already been removed, resigned or voted out, the taxpaying public needs to remember who they are and keep them out.
4) Generally speaking, BTW, state law prohibits using improper influence to create value for a private developer.
5) Stop using public resources (including legal) to defend bad decisions, bad outcomes, bad influence. The taxpayer will not pay this anymore. Start owning up to mistakes and quickly take corrective action.
5) A sale must be based on a current appraisal. State law must be followed. Read the law and follow it.

Concerned Voter
5 years ago
Reply to  Beth Melo

Sorry, but your links do not work.

And that appraisal has to reflect the bylaw change in order to reflect the appropriate current value.

State law. Read it.

Concerned Voter
5 years ago
Reply to  Beth Melo


And thanks for providing a way to alert the taxpaying public.

This is all simply unbelievable.

There must be a current appraisal reflecting the current market value under any and all applicable zoning and legal encumbrances or designations (such as historic — or not). The reason is basic and rudimentary. In order to sell the property and comply with state law, the Town has to report the current value as part of the process.

Any zoning change may well change the market value.

Concerned Voter
5 years ago

Not wrong about the appraisal and all issues associated with that and documenting value to complete this sale process in accordance with state law.

The sale must be based on a current appraisal. The appraisal has to cite all applicable zoning and the ACTUAL legal status of the property, i.e. if it is historic or not. (In my opinion, this is not an historic property and don’t see any legal status declaring it as such–and BTW, George Washington did not sleep there. The place is a dump.)

The appraisal makes no mention whatsoever of any changes via Adaptive Re-use and its impact on value. And BTW, all of this seems preconceived and steering in my opinion, with the taxpayers being short changed.

State law requires that this be documented for any sale of surplus property.

Concerned Voter
5 years ago

WAKE UP SOUTHBOROUGH TAXPAYERS. See the following BOS package from tonight’s meeting (11-19-18):

This property has not been properly marketed, in my opinion, resulting again in one bid. That bid is $21k.

The bidding company’s responding RFP (see the BOS package) contains the following statement: “The total net value of “First Colony’s” business and real estate is in excess of $100m. We just gave this same sponsor $1m on another project here in town. ARE YOU KIDDING ????

5 years ago

As CV above correctly observes, this is the same developer the town STUPIDLY voted to give $1M to restore the Burnett house. Why should the town subsidize a commercial developer whose business and real estate assets exceed $100M?

See a trend here? In another year or so, there’ll be some move for the town to pony up $0.5M to ‘assist’ in the restoration of Fayville Hall. Just watch.

Let’s rename this town to Stupidborough!

I’m off to CommCan to get my chocolate bars and gummies…

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