Raw Seafood seeks to halt biopark land sale

FALL RIVER – Earlier this summer, the Fall River Redevelopment Authority believed it was set to sell the remaining SouthCoast Life Science and Technology Park property with a $14 million buy-and-sell agreement. dollars for 82 acres of land.

But a recent lawsuit filed against RA by Hutchens Holding II, LLC, owner of Raw Seafoods, is seeking to stop the sale of a plot of land claiming they had a right of first refusal agreement with the redevelopment agency.

The company’s lawsuit seeks an injunction against the disputed sale.

A preliminary injunction to stop the sale of a plot of land to the developer Vitas Management and Development Company has been set for August 31, but has been postponed at the request of the RDA until September 14 in Bristol County Superior Court in New Bedford.

Hutchens Holding filed a lawsuit in Bristol County Superior Court on August 1, claiming the company entered into a “valid and binding land disposition agreement” with RDA in January 2020 when they purchased 24.5 acres in the “bio-park” for 2.45 million dollars to build a new cold room.

Right of refusal on adjoining parcel

Included in that agreement was a clause that gave Hutchens a right of first refusal to purchase adjacent property for future development on another 24-25 acre piece of land. The agreement had an expiry date of 24 months.

According to the lawsuit, in January 2022 (apparently before the two-year expiration date), Hutchens Holdings learned that the package was included in a buy-and-sell agreement with Vitas Management and Development.

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The Herald News previously reported that VMD had agreed to terms to purchase the $4.16 million plot and pledged to build a 300,000 square foot facility that could potentially employ 200 people.

VMD in the land agreement with RDA, agreed to purchase a larger plot of 53.19 acres with a purchase price of $9.5 million, the company undertook in the agreement to build a 600,000 square foot facility that could help create up to 600 jobs.

VMD’s lawyers last week filed a motion in Bristol County Superior Court saying they were joining the lawsuit as an “intervening defendant” with RDA with a counterclaim against Hutchens Holding, court records show. .

Agreement reached with former RDA board

In late 2019, when RA’s board changed hands, Hutchens Holdings purchased 24 acres in the bio-park for $2.54 million. The new facility the company is building continues to be under construction.

Included in the deal, Hutchens Holding had a right of first refusal to 25 adjoining acres for further expansion.

The deal was signed by Jason Hutchins and former RA executive director Maria Marasco. At the time the deal was signed by RA board members Kara O’Connell, Bob Smith and Lorian Taylor Branco.

Jo C. Goode can be reached at jgoode@heraldnews.com. Support local journalism and subscribe to The Herald News today!